Pokemon Go - Accidents

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I will be the first to admit that I am not always "down with the kids" and so the new Pokémon Go phenomenon is all new to me…in fact I didn’t know anything about it until I tuned into Chris Evans this morning on Radio 2 and he was talking about how crazy everyone has gone with it.   So for those of you like me that didn’t, and perhaps still don’t, have a clue…Pokémon GO is an upcoming augmented-reality game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices.

The game has recently been released, alongside the Pokémon Go Plus, a small wearable device developed by Nintendo, which uses a Bluetooth connection to notify users when a Pokémon is nearby with an LED and a light rumble. The game will allow players to capture, battle, train, and trade virtual Pokémon who appear throughout the real world. The game will be free-to-play, although it will support in-app purchases.

Bizarrely enough, there must be a Pokémon nearby, whilst enjoying my lunch with colleagues the chat turned to Pokémon Go and the number of accidents that have occurred as a result of it. 

The idea is to use the app and  get people to exercise more, but it’s not without its risks. Users of the wildly popular app are reportedly tripping, falling and getting sunburned while tracking down the virtual creatures. Less cautious players are also putting themselves at risk of car accidents as they attempt to throw Pokéballs at Pikachu while driving around. 

Accidents and injuries

A search on social media has revealed that one avid user fell off his skateboard and cut his hand while moving slowly and keeping his eyes glued to his phone to search for Pokémon. “I just wanted to be able to stop quickly if there were any Pokémons nearby to catch,” Mike Schultz, 21, told the Associated Press. “I don’t think the company is really at fault.  There are already reported accidents in the States and numerous You Tube videos of others misfortune.

Pokemon and driving

Richmond Police has already taken steps to issue warnings for drivers not to "Pokemon and Drive"  Police have issued a warning to fans of Pokemon Go to be careful as they try to "catch em all" and not "Pokemon and drive". They issued their pun-laden warning, telling gamers their police station was not a "poke stop" to catch and train Pokemon.The force told enthusiasts: "Always be aware of your surroundings. That Pikachu will not expect you to run in the road, and Squirtle won't want you to swim in the Thames."Don't be a Drowzee and walk around with your head in a daze - always be aware of people who may be watching you to steal your phone or Charmander."Don't Pokemon and drive. That egg won't hatch if you're driving. Remember it's onyx-acceptable and if you're caught - you risk a £100 fine and 3 points on your licence."

While humour was involved, there are genuine fears the smartphone game could cause a spike in road accidents nationwide.

RAC spokesman, Pete Williams said: "The Pokemon Go revolution could take the illegal use of hand-held mobile phones at the wheel to another level."It has to be ‘Pokemon no-Go’ when driving but it is just as important that pedestrians don’t get caught in the Pokemon mist and find themselves stepping into the path of danger."It is critical that drivers are not tempted to have the app running on their mobile phone when driving."

Child safety concerns

Many of the game's biggest fans are children with charities criticising the game developers for not taking on board "well documented child safety concerns", Mirror reports.

NSPCC released a statement saying: "It’s deeply troubling that the app’s owners have ignored many warning signals and well documented child safety concerns. "It would have been better if they had taken time to reflect on these and put their young users first. "Pokemon Go is setting a precedent as the most successful reality game app on the market. It’s very disappointing that child safety isn’t at its heart."

My advice is to go have fun with the Pokémon app but be sensible.  Use common sense and don’t use the app whilst driving and take care when walking along the road and avoid those trip hazards and remember the old fashioned green cross code!

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