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Pokémon GO’ Mania – Fun or an Accident Waiting to Happen?

The word Pokémon is a contraction of two Japanese words, “Poketto” and “Monsut,” meaning “Pocket Monster.” Definition of Monster: an imaginary creature that is typically large, ugly, and frightening.

The Pokémon are supposed to be “monsters” that have special powers and share the world with humans. The idea of the game is to learn how to collect as many Pokemon as possible, train them, and use them against other people’s Pokémon by invoking the various abilities of each Pokémon creature1

Almost everywhere you turn, it seems, people have their eyes glued to smartphone screens playing Pokémon Go. The app has quickly become a cultural phenomenon that has fans of all ages hunting around their neighborhoods for collectible digital creatures that appear on players’ screens as they explore real-world locations. 7

To play, you fire up the game and then start trekking to prominent local landmarks — represented in the game as “Pokestops” — where you can gather supplies such as Pokeballs. Those are what you fling at online “pocket monsters,” or Pokémon, to capture them for training. At other locations called “gyms” — which may or may not be actual gyms in the real world — Pokémon battle one another for supremacy. 6

Unlike most video games, Pokémon GO actually requires people to leave their homes, get some exercise and visit real places. This type of game is being called “augmented reality,” and it is bringing people together in new and interesting ways. 1 However, concern is arising that the game’s cutting-edge technology is having the unintended effect of luring kids into dangerous areas.2 Further, people have been busted trampling through cemeteries chasing the colorful pocket monsters. The Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. had to declare itself a Pokémon-free zone3

Injuries – vehicle accidents, falls, walking into various objects and mishaps with revolving doors have been reported, as well as people committing robberies at Pokémon GO locations. Additionally, there are fears about personal security. In order to play, the Google app needs to know your location through your device’s GPS and access the camera.3 Players that have logged into the game using their Google account may have given the app permission to go through all of their Google data, including emails and website history.1

Some ask, ‘Is Pokémon dangerous?’ One opinion is that “It conditions the child who plays the game into accepting occult and evolutionary principles. Haunter can hypnotize, eat a person’s dreams and drain their energy. Abra reads minds. Kadabra emits negative energy that harms others. Gastly induces sleep. Gengar laughs at peoples’ fright. Nidoran uses poison. The psychic type of Pokemon are among the strongest in the game. Charmander, Haunter, Ivysaur, Kadabra and many more evolve. The children are taught to use these creatures to do their will by invoking colored energy cards, fights and commands.” 1

Are these ‘monster’ traits something we value in terms of human interaction?

On the other hand, the game may have positive benefits, as noted by a parent of toddlers who writes:

“I believe we can use the powers of Pokémon for good, not evil, and watch our children’s intelligence grow by leaps and bounds.” 4

She observes her young children’s use of multisyllabic character names and enhanced recall: “Parents around the world are amazed as their children, who can’t remember to wipe their shoes before entering the house, are memorizing over 150 made-up names as well as each one’s energy levels, powers, and a multitude of other facts and details. Think of all the new connections being made in their little brains!” 4

Interesting arguments to consider, pro and con, but it’s a phenomenon that may only last as long as it takes most people to catch every Pokémon. But if you’re caught up in the craze, here are some safety suggestions to avoid injury when playing Pokémon GO!

  • Do not use the application when you are operating a motor vehicle or bicycle.
  • Do not trespass on private property when trying to “catch” a Pokémon.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when walking and do not stare down at your phone not knowing hazards around you, like roadways, drop-offs, waterways, etc.
  • Use caution when sharing your location as strangers can see your location information.
  • Travel in groups in public/well lit locations. 5

Blog Post by Joanne.

  1. Is Pokemon Go Evil, Dangerous or Demonic?
  2. Expert Talks Dangers and Safety Tips for Children With Pokemon Go
  3. The security risks of Pokémon Go, explained
  4. http://suzanjackson.homestead.com/Pokemon.html
  5. Pokémon Go player crashes his car into a tree
  6. Playing Pokemon Go is becoming dangerous
  7. Holocaust Museum to visitors: Please stop catching Pokémon here
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