It’s the newest craze in mobile games and the hottest topic on social media. Pokémon Go has become the top-downloaded app while also encouraging its players to exercise and explore real world social interactions. Unlike other games, the player needs to catch Pokémon creatures by moving around in the real world. The game is an augmented reality in which players must keep their eyes on their mobile device which, unfortunately, brings up several safety concerns. Imagine walking down the sidewalk in search of Pokémon and suddenly your face is against the pavement. Trips, slips and falls occur thousands of times a day without distraction, but add in playing a game on your mobile device while you are walking and the risk for a fall or walking into objects increases significantly. There was a reported instance where a player was walking down the sidewalk and was so distracted by the game, they bumped into a tree and broke their nose. Even more distressful is the possibility of actually walking into the road and not paying attention to your surroundings.

Driving is another concern for Pokémon Go gamers. The game uses GPS tracking and shows the user a map to find the next Pokéstop or Gym. Some users may be driving to their destination instead of walking, paying more attention to their phone than the road. Users are alerted by their smartphone when a character is nearby. Driving and keeping your eyes on your mobile device to play a game is a top concern for distracted driving. Imagine when you are playing a video game at home – you are so focused on the game that you forget what is going on around you, in the case of driving, the distraction is tenfold.

Children are being warned by the developers and police to be aware of their surroundings at all times, and encouraged to play the game with friends when walking. They are also suggesting parents go with their children while wandering around unfamiliar areas. The ‘lure’ feature is also something parents and players should be concerned with. The lure module attracts Pokémon to a specific Pokéstop for 30 minutes. The cost for this feature is $1. There have been several instances in the news in the past few days about robberies due to the fact that the robber is able to anticipate the location of their next victim in a high crime area.

Overall, the positive outcome of this new mobile game is the fact that the users are now exploring new areas that they have not been to – maybe a local park, church or library – and meeting other players doing the same. This is an opportunity to truly have social interactions with people with the same interests. As the game states when you open the application, ‘Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings’. We at Cutler Rader PL care about your safety and recommend that you please play safe and keep in mind that Pokémon Go can pose significant risks for you if you are not careful.

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