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Pokémon Go Real World Risks and Safety Tips

The goal of this game is quite the opposite of all other games- to get you out into the world and interacting with other people playing the game. If anything, parents have been applauding this game for getting their children off of the couch and out getting some actual exercise. So far, my favorite headline about the game has been “Sore Legs Become Pandemic As Pokémon Go Players Accidentally Get Exercise.” 

However, I’ve also stumbled upon some other news headlines that are quite worrisome, that affect people’s virtual and physical privacy. As a result, instead of writing a typical article that gives you tips and tricks on gameplay, we’re going to give you tips and tricks on how to maintain your privacy and physical safety while you go “catch ‘em all.”

Since there are many factors that come into play when using this app, we are going to delve into these aspects in a three part series examining the risks in the cyber realm, the real world and the safety of children while playing the game.

Real World Risks

The game works using augmented reality to lead you to various Pokémon. Augmented reality is a form of technology that blends together the real world and computer gameplay. It uses Google maps along with your GPS to help you navigate to nearby Pokémon. The only way to make real progress in the game is to go outside and start walking. 

Physical Safety

While the game always reminds you upon loading to be aware of your surroundings, it’s still pretty easy for users to inadvertently become “glued” to their screens while in gameplay. This can result in a lot physical mishaps. I’ve seen a lot of comments online about how people end up walking into trees, tripping over curbs and getting scratched and banged up in various ways.

Pro-tip: You don’t have to be staring at your phone while walking around in order to see nearby Pokémon- you just have to leave it open and in your pocket- it will notify you by vibrating or making a sound when there is one nearby to catch.

One major trending story I’ve seen is about criminals luring victims to Pokéstops in order to rob them. Pokéstops are real-world locations that players flock to so they can interact with other people playing the game. Always be aware of your surroundings, the people around you, and if possible, team up and use the buddy system when venturing out to public spaces (gameplay is super fun with some friends, too). Don’t be afraid to call 911 if you feel like you are in immediate danger or end up in a dangerous predicament.

Don’t play while driving:
Yes, there have already been stories of people driving around trying to catch Pokémon. Just don’t do it. Instead, bring along a navigator to handle the scouting of the elusive creatures, and when you find one, pull over safely and legally before you start launching your Pokéballs.

Your battery will die:
Because the game has to be open while playing, and is constantly using your GPS signal and contacting their servers, this will be a huge drain on your battery. It’s a great idea to invest in a portable battery charger so you don’t end up lost with a dead phone in an unfamiliar area.

Use common sense:
I think the most useful section in the Trainer’s Manual is “Adhere to the rules of the human world.” This means obey local laws such as trespassing, looking both ways before crossing a street, being courteous and polite to other players and to watch where you’re walking! Another great tip is to always tell someone where you are going to be.

As with all things on the Internet landscape, it is always best to exercise some caution, especially when being introduced to new technology. However, the fact that there are risks should not encourage users to shy away from new things. The most important thing is to educate yourself on the risks and be aware. Once you’re empowered with this knowledge, you can embrace this new technology and go catch that Charizard!

Related articles to Pokémon Go:
Pokémon Go Cyber Security and Privacy Guidelines
Pokémon Go Parents Guide for Children​
Fight Off Malicious Pokemon GO! Apps With The Help Of Norton Mobile Security​