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COMMENTARY: Pokémon Go Craze Creates Concerns


By Tammye McDuff

I will admit the older I get the less I know about the various types of electronic games. This past week I was standing outside talking with my neighbor, when I noticed her eldest daughter, walking back and forth on the sidewalk, staring at her phone. The young girl was not paying attention to where she was going and stepped off the curb, bumping into a parked car. When asked what she was doing, she replied ‘catching Pokémon’.

USA Today released an article July 11th explaining the game,
“The Pokémon Company launched Pokémon Go, a game for iPhones and Android smartphones featuring the classic video game franchise where players catch and train special creatures called Pokémon. What makes the game special is its use of augmented reality, where Pokémon will appear as if they’ve been spotted in the real world. The game presents a map powered by GPS, using real-world locations to spot Pokémon and collect items. When you find one, the game opens up your smartphone’s camera, giving you a view of Pokémon in the real world. Once you spot them, you flick a Poké Ball toward the creature to capture it.”

The element of the game sees users putting a ‘lure’ in a certain area; this causes Pokémon to appear in that position, attracting gamers. Concerned over children’s safety one experiment, had a gamer post a lure to see how many people turned up. Within minutes, several children had arrived at the chosen spot – most without adults – ignoring the ‘stranger danger’ radar. Many parents are concerned that the game could be used by pedophiles for nefarious purposes.

Today the Downey Police Department issued a press release on the dangers of the new ‘Pokémon Go’ phone application, “Parents and children should make sure they are aware of their surroundings, especially at night and in areas that may be unfamiliar.”

It was reported by KTLA5 that activities related to Pokémon Go have prompted law enforcement agencies to issue warnings about the increasingly popular smartphone game. Many agencies have noticed a rise in trespassing because of the reality app, which has reportedly been downloaded over a million times since its release Thursday, July 7th.

The Goochland County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia noted that deputies have located a number of people going to businesses, churches and government buildings when they are closed to look for Pokémon characters. The Wyoming, Minnesota Police Department issued a similar warning about trespassing on private property while playing the game. Other agencies warned about the dangers of driving and playing Pokémon Go.

The Washington State Department of Transportation issued a similar message to drivers, telling them not to use the app while they are headed somewhere in their vehicles.

One of the most serious incidents related to the game occurred in the St. Louis area last weekend, where four teens have been accused in multiple armed robberies in which they allegedly used Pokémon Go to target their victims. The agency cautioned players in a Facebook post on Sunday to be careful when sharing their location with strangers through the app.

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