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Having Fun Playing Pokemon GO? Be Careful!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed the number of people out and about playing a game on their phones. Chances are, they’re playing Pokémon GO. The app has already surpassed American Twitter users in the short time it’s been out and it’s popularity is continuing to surge. Pokémon GO is the game everyone’s talking about. As more people join in on the Pokémon Go fun, however, safety warnings have begun to emerge. Armed with a mobile device and an app, players travel around their local areas, looking for fictional creatures called Pokémon. The app uses a person’s GPS to place Pokémon in locations nearby, with the current landscape playing a role in the type of Pokémon that appears on the screen.
While on the surface Pokémon Go seems to be a fun, harmless game, there are risks involved in playing if you’re not careful. Before engaging in the game, here are a few things to consider.
Due to the scavenger hunt nature of the game, injuries are a real danger. In fact, reports began rolling in mere days after the app launched. The biggest danger comes from walking while staring at the screen, which is causing players to trip over curbs and fall into ditches. As dangerous as those injuries are, things get even more dangerous when cars are present, since a player could accidentally step into traffic when not paying attention.
Texas’s Department of Transportation sees another danger. The department recently asked residents to submit artwork and slogan for a campaign called “Don’t #PokémonGo and Drive.” As players try to get to the next location, they might find themselves staring at the screen, searching for Pokémon while on the road. Drivers already know about the dangers of smartphone use behind the wheel, but it may be forgotten in all the excitement.
In the quest for Pokémon, players have wandered into apartment complexes and neighborhoods, bringing concerns about trespassing. At best, a resident might contact the police who then issue a ticket to the offender. At worst, a resident with a firearm might mistake the player for an intruder. While playing the game, consumers should pay close attention to all posted signs and stay away from private property. Even if they choose to play on a business lot, they should respect property owners’ rights and ask permission before creeping around back dumpsters or traipsing through stores.
The biggest headlines have gone to robberies that have occurred as a result of the game. Opportunists have figured out how to use Pokémon Go to lure players to a location where they can then rob them. Since the victims are distracted by the game, they may not even realize danger is nearby until it’s too late. Police advise players to play the game in groups and avoid journeying to secluded areas. As with many of the above dangers, they can also reduce risk by paying attention to their surroundings while playing.
Pokémon Go not only poses physical risks, experts are reporting that the game opens players up to security risks. When you sign up to play Pokémon Go, you are given two choices, signing up for a Trainer Club account on the game’s website or linking to your Google account to access the game. Since using your Google account is quick and easy, more people will most likely choose that method.
Using your Google account to access the game, grants “full account access” permissions iOS app. This may mean that the game’s developers could now access your Google account data, including your email, Google drive documents and more.
If you’re already playing the game and have signed up with your Google account, there’s still a way to tighten your permissions. Simply to to your Google account settings page and click on “Connected apps & sites” under “Sign-in & Security.” Next, click “Manage Apps” click on Pokémon Go and select “Remove.”
Niantic Labs, the company behind the popular app, responded to the reports by saying that Pokémon Go only accesses basic Google account information and no other type of data has been collected. It also reported that the full account access permission of the app is a technical error and it is currently working on a patch to resolve the issue.
Plain Old Bad Manners
Playing Pokémon Go in nontraditional places may not be harmful to your health, but it can be completely inappropriate. Keep in mind where you are when you’re playing the game. Reports of cropping up of players catching Pokémons at locations you wouldn’t expect like hospitals, cemeteries, funerals, protests and museums. In fact, the Holocaust museum in Washington DC issued this statement.
“Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism,” Andrew Hollinger, the museum’s communications director, told The Post. “We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game.”
Pokémon Go is likely only the beginning of this type of game, which uses a technology known as “augmented reality.” It’s important that mobile users know the dangers of distracted walking and driving and take measures to remain safe, whether they’re returning a text message or looking for fictional creatures in a game.
For more information about Pokémon Go, read MacWorld’s beginner’s guide.
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