If you have not already heard of Pokémon GO, you might be living under a rock. Just kidding…but seriously, the Pokémon GO craze has swept the nation since its release on July 6. According to Fortune.com, Pokémon GO became the top grossing and most downloaded app in the Apple app store within its first week ever, and data released by Survey Monkey Intelligence blog says that Pokémon GO is the biggest mobile game in US history.
Pokémon GO is an augmented reality (AR) game, or in other words, a game that adds sound, video, or graphics to one’s view of a real environment through the use of your smartphone’s location services and camera. The game’s Web site www.pokemongo.com, says that players use their smartphones to physically explore real-world locations to find Pokémon that they can catch, with the goal of the game being to catch at least one of every Pokémon available.
According to Forbes.com, the largest percentage of Pokémon GO users are ages 18-29 (46%), next are 30-50 year-olds (25%), followed by 13-17 year-olds (22%), and 50 and older (6%). Surprisingly, 63 percent of Pokémon GO players in the United States are female.
As the popularity of this game continues to increase, one can only contemplate its impact on public safety. Since its release, there have been several news stories of players being reported for trespassing on private property, distracted driving, injured, robbed, and most recently, killed while playing this popular game. Because of this, many law enforcement agencies across the country have taken to their social media pages and other means to warn players about the possible dangers associated with users being preoccupied with their smartphones. The Law Enforcement Cyber Center and the National White Collar Crime Center even published a law enforcement alert regarding Pokémon GO.
Not just law enforcement, but some state governments have even moved to take measures to ensure the safety of its Pokémon GO playing citizenry. For instance, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, sent a directive to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to restrict sex offenders under community supervision from using Pokémon GO and similar games and also sent a letter to the game’s software developer, Niantic, Inc., requesting their assistance in prohibiting sex offenders from playing the popular game.
So, what does all this mean? In my opinion, it means that when playing this game you need to remember to always keep one foot in reality. If you are a Pokémon GO player, keep these safety tips in mind while you play:
- Do not play the game while operating a motor vehicle.
- Observe pedestrian traffic laws. Watch for oncoming traffic before crossing roadways.
- Do not play the game alone and always be aware of your surroundings.
- Do not trespass on private property.
- Monitor your children’s use of the game.