The many scary dangers of playing Pokemon Go! to children

Cybersecurity experts worry about people who will attempt to use the game’s mechanics for nefarious purposes.

Unless you have been living under a rock, chances are you have heard of Pokemon Go! It’s no doubt been on your Facebook feed, and at one point or another you may have heard it talked about or seen it in certain news websites.

But if it still makes you scratch your head, here’s a succinct description of it by Kinderling:

“It’s an augmented reality phone app based on the popular TV series and card game. Using your GPS settings and camera, the app makes Pokemon ‘appear’ in your real-time surroundings.

“Players compete to catch them (by throwing virtual Pokéballs) to level up and use in duels with other players (at locations dubbed Pokégyms).”

In short it allows you, the player, to participate and have an active role in a fictional world’s narrative, and a lot of people, both old and young, find this concept infinitely appealing.

Safety concerns

Due to its interactive nature, however, it poses certain risks and threats to the player’s safety.

Cybersecurity experts worry about people who will attempt to use the game’s mechanics for nefarious purposes.

A combination of real-world locations and in-app mechanics, the game urges  "people [to] gather at those places frequently, day or night,” said Director of Northeast Cybersecurity and Forensics Center at Utica College Anthony Martino in a WKTV News report.

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“[The game] could lead to a situation where a pedophile or someone else with ill intent, in fact there's been circumstances in other localities where people actually lured to a location and then robbed.”

Anothony himself had witnessed another pressing danger the game poses: distraction.

“Just a few days ago, I saw a group of almost 20 people gathered at the intersection of two major highways, all staring at their phones, and walking in circles and taking pictures and none of them appeared to have a lot of situational awareness of the cars that were going by at 55 mph.”

The curious thing about the game, too, is the fact that unlike most video games, it does encourage children to go outside instead of being cooped up in their house, yet by doing so, they unknowingly compromise their safety.

On top of all the safety concerns, there is still the fact that like all video games, Pokemon Go can be extremely addictive, and all addictions can never be a good thing.

Herein comes the role of the parents

Despite the game being intended to be played by children ages nine and up, it will no doubt end up in younger children’s phones, sometimes without the knowledge of their parents.

Parents should then to closely monitor their children’s activities, online and off.

Not only that, they should also familiarize themselves with such innovations; that way they will be better equipped to discern whether or not their children’s behavior is within reasonable limits.

Photo credit: Eduardo Woo

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