Pokémon Go—a location-based, free-to-play game for iOS and Android smartphones—has been all the rage recently, encouraging players to get outside and walk around. However, players sometimes struggle to be fully aware of their surroundings and are running into risks.
Pokémon Go uses a smartphone’s GPS and gyroscope sensors to determine a player’s location. The game then uses that information to display Pokémon near the player, through the phone’s camera. The game also marks popular locations, such as parks, memorials and other frequently visited areas, as places where players can compete with each other and gather free in-game items.
The game has proven to be extremely popular with a variety of age groups, with over 7.5 million downloads in its first week of availability. However, its focus on traveling to new locations and the constant need to look down at a phone to play presents a variety of risks to players.
Keep this in mind while you or your children are playing Pokémon Go:
- Be wary of unfamiliar areas while playing the game. Thieves have been known to gather near popular areas identified as meeting spots by the game.
- Look up from your phone regularly to watch out for obstacles such as rocks, stairs and bodies of water.
- Never look at your phone while you’re crossing a street. Drivers may assume that you’re fully aware of your surroundings while you’re crossing.
- Pokémon Go should never be played while driving. As the game requires a player to constantly look at his or her phone, it can cause a substantial risk of an auto accident. (Additionally, the game will not function properly while moving at high speeds, which can increase your likelihood of an accident.)
- No trespassing. Be respectful of homes and buildings you don't belong in. No Pokémon is worth getting in trouble with your neighbors, or the law.