Pokémon GO! This little app, based on the huge franchise of video games, card games, and cartoons, has become insanely popular. The game appeals to a variety of ages. Parents with little ones, teens, pre-teens, adults. Everyone is going crazy for this game.
Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game that requires an internet connection with GPS tracking and movement in the real world. Parents need to know that playing the game involves various safety and security issues.
First, there are numerous privacy concerns. A player's name and location are tracked, stored, and revealed to nearby players, including both children and adults. This can certainly lead to strangers, some with bad intentions, knowing exactly where you or your child are located. Additionally, if you sign on with your Google login, the app has near total access to your account.
Other risks include physical injury due to distraction, being directed to unsafe places or onto private property, and even becoming a target for assault or robbery. All of this has happened! Recent news reports have players walking into traffic and one pair even fell off a cliff because they were distracted.
With many fads, there is a big frenzy that seems to suck common sense out of the minds of normal individuals. A pair of players recently jumped a fence after hours at a zoo to get their Pokémon. Large groups of teens wander the streets together (in some areas you would call this a gang), most with their eyes glued to their phones. Some people feel threatened by the large group that seems to be aimlessly wandering or sometimes loitering in an area. Police are now getting reports regarding suspicious behavior. Now police have to take time to follow up on these Pokémon issues which takes them away from dealing with real threats and emergencies.
If you or your child decide to play, make sure you discuss safety and security concerns first. It is recommended that children under 13 play only with direct adult supervision.
Be safe and have fun!