Is Pokemon GO Dangerous News?

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I’m almost positive that you’ve heard about the newest phenomenon, Pokemon GO. News programs like NBC and FOX have featured segments on the new game. It’s rise to popularity is both startling and impressive. I’m going to preface this by saying that I’m NY based, so my experience is with a largely populated city atmosphere.

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What is Pokemon GO?

Pokemon GO is a phone app available on both the Apple and the Google Play Store, produced by the company Niantic. It utilizes your GPS and data to allow you to capture virtual Pokemon on your phone. To catch Pokemon, you can’t be stationary. The game is meant to get the player to move. The movement is tracked via GPS on your phone. The game tracks your location and projects several Pokestops in your area, as well as virtual Pokemon onto your screen. As you walk around, you can collect pokeballs from various designated locations and catch Pokemon that pop up on your device.

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What is the appeal? 

Pokemon is massive and always has been since it initially came out. If you ask someone who doesn’t watch the anime or play the games to name a Pokemon, more often than not, they’ll have an answer. Pikachu for example, is a household name and one of Nintendo’s most famous characters. It’s been a fantasy of many to be a Pokemon trainer and travel the world hunting down Pokemon. This is really close to that reality.  Both children and adults alike are playing Pokemon GO! Maybe it’s the excitement of catching a Pokemon, or being part of a faction and battling. I don’t think anyone can pinpoint one specific reason why Pokemon GO is so popular.

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What Critics are Saying:

Just like with any popular thing, the critics are abound. Pokemon GO has been on several news channels and media outlets for the past few days. I never thought I’d see the day where I’d walk outside and see not one, but several people engrossed on their devices playing the very same game that I am. But, that seems to be the problem. Pokemon GO is wildly addicting, and leaves people vulnerable to theft and physical injury. When someone is staring at their screen and walking down the block, chances are that they aren’t paying attention. It is so easy for someone to snatch the phone from your hand, or worse. I argue that this is possible with any phone application. I’ve seen people engrossed in texting, Instagram and even reading on their phones. Which begs the question, what makes Pokemon GO extra dangerous?

I’m going to talk about a few instances that I’ve heard about. Online, many people have reported walking into things because they weren’t paying attention to their surroundings. Even though the app itself warns people to be aware of their surroundings of all time, some people can’t take their eyes off of their phones. News outlets have also reported players stumbling upon dead bodies trying to capture Pokemon. This can be traumatizing to a person and potentially be putting them in dangerous situations. Others reported Pokemon GO players as disrespectful, going into places like The Holocaust Museum and attempting to capture Pokemon.

Perhaps the most threatening is reports of robberies at gun point. People use something called a “lure module” to attract players to a specific spot. When a lure module is attached to a Pokestop, Pokemon are more likely to be found in the area.  When players arrive at certain spots, robbers steal their devices, most often at gunpoint.  This is alarming, but does that mean you should stop playing?

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Pros of Pokemon GO:

This is fun, competitive and collaborative. People have said that Pokemon GO has helped them with things like anxiety and depression. It is an outlet that encourages people to walk around, rather than staying in their homes all day. It gives people something to look forward to and helps boost their confidence. Not only that, it gives players the opportunity to meet others who are interested in the same thing. It’s incredibly easy to meet other players at Pokestops and to strike up a conversation. Most are really friendly!

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Things to Keep In Mind:

Pokemon GO can be dangerous. Always be vigilant and watch for any suspicious behavior around you. If going to a lure, it’s best if you’re driving by in a car rather than walking. I find it’s much safer this way. If you’re hellbent on walking, bring others with you. Travel in groups when catching Pokemon. Also, please be mindful of rules that businesses and landmarks have placed up and respect their wishes when it comes to the app.

Now, what are you waiting for? Go out, have fun and catch some Pokemon!