Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Staying Safe While Playing “Pokémon GO”

Posted by Rachael Ballard Filed under: *Hot Topics*, General, Social Media

People of all ages have been obsessed with Pokémon GO since its U.S. release in early July (Here’s a review of how the app works from School Library Journal). When students and staff go back to school in the coming days or weeks, Pokémon GO may be something that needs to be addressed. Obviously, the game should not be used during school hours, but students and staff alike may play before or after school, or during their free time. Districts are liable for all activity on school grounds, so if Pokémon Go is played on school property (again, outside of class time!), we compiled the following tips to help players stay safe.

Don’t play while driving: This seems obvious, but we felt it was important to include. According to the Consumerist, a 28-year old recently crashed into a tree in upstate New York because he was actively playing while driving. This injury, damage and the following citation are 100% preventable!

Stop to catch your Pokémon: Forbes listed several safety tips, but the most basic was to actually stop walking to catch a Pokémon. If players are concentrating on their screen and not their surroundings, they are putting themselves at risk. The game is actually programmed to vibrate the user’s phone when a Pokémon is a near so they don’t have to walk and stare at their phones. Instead, users should locate a Pokémon on the map, walk toward the Pokémon’s location with their phones in their pockets and wait for the phone to vibrate to indicate when a Pokémon is within catching distance.

Play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar areas:  There have been several reports of players running into crime and other unsafe situations. ABC 7 reported some of them here. The Pokémon Company encourages players to pay attention to their surroundings at all times, and to not play alone when they are catching Pokémon in unfamiliar areas.  

Be Aware of Data Privacy Concerns: Just like most apps, Pokémon Go requires users to accept their terms and conditions in order to play. However, there have been many media reports about how the app can collect user data. The Hacker News provides six Pokémon GO considerations including malware, protecting user privacy and avoiding Pokémon GO-affiliated apps.

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