Pokémon GO users spend much more time using this mobile app than users who use Snapchat, Instagram, and WhatsApp. It’s gotten mixed reviews, but it’s one of the most popular apps available for both the iPhone (iOS) and for Android phones, and it’s been downloaded more than 100 million times worldwide. Some people have had fun while others have suffered from misfortunes.
What Is Pokémon GO?
Pokémon is a branded term that means “pocket monsters.” It’s an extremely popular franchise, and you battle other players with your characters you’ve collected. Some people can’t get enough of the game, but for others, there have been tragic outcomes from their gameplay such as accidents, car crashes, robbery, and even death. Let’s explore some of the risks you’re taking when you play Pokémon GO.
Pokémon GO Is A Huge Security Risk
The app originally requested full access permission for the user’s Google account. This means that the app could see all of your account details, including emails, documents, and all Google drive documents. The developers claim to have solved the solution by fixing the app so it now only uses basic Google account information.
Pokémon GO Flags Privacy Concerns
You Could Die From Being Attacked
There’s already been a handful of reports about players getting shot while playing Pokémon GO. Two players were shot by a homeowner in Florida when they were mistaken for burglars. One teenager was killed in Guatemala when playing the game with his cousin near some train tracks. Other players have been assaulted and even stabbed while hunting for Pokémon characters.
You Might Find A Dead Body
There have already been reports of people discovering dead bodies while wandering around to collect Pokémon characters. A teen from Wyoming found a dead body floating in the river by her house while she was on the hunt for Pokémon characters. Across the world in Singapore, a man had a similar experience near a fishing spot.
You Could Get Hit By A Train
Some people don’t realize that they can be up to 100 feet away to claim their prize. It’s been reported that Pokémoncharacters, “Pokéstops”, and other virtual objects are being placed near railroad tracks, stations, and rail yard facilities. This puts players in danger of being hit by a train, and it also puts the train crew and passengers at risk of an accident.
Watch Where You’re Walking
To play Pokémon GO, you must wander around in search of new characters. According to the National Safety Council, more than 11,000 people have been seriously injured because of distracted walking since the year 2000. Recently Marisol Touraine, France’s Minister of Social Affairs and Health, issued a friendly warning that translates to “To all the trainers: Go out, walking is good for your health! But be very attentive to avoid accidents. Happy hunting! #PokemonGo.”
Thieves Might Lure You Into A Trap
Potential victims can easily be targeted because of the geolocation features of the Pokémon GO app. Robbers are able to anticipate where players are headed, and they can hide in unsuspecting secluded areas. Muggers and thieves can even hang out near popular “Pokéstops” waiting for unsuspecting players who are glued to their phones.
You Or Your Kids Could Spend A Fortune
Pokémon GO is a freemium app. That means it’s free to use, but it has in-app purchases. It’s easy to forget about how much you’re spending when you just need to click a button to buy something in the app. If you don’t have parental controls enabled, kids can easily buy add-ons that start from $1 and increase from there. It’s also a good idea to monitor the data on your mobile plan because Pokémon GO requires photo data when you’re not connected to wifi.
You Could Get Hurt In A Stampede
In August 2016, Pokémon GO was released in Taiwan. The craze caught on quickly, and a mob of new players flooded downtown Taipei — bringing traffic to a standstill as they hunted down the character known as Snorlax. People climbed over one another as they battled for the capture in the mob of gamers.
Pokemon GO Car Crashes
Car accidents have happened, and playing Pokémon GO while driving is as bad as texting while driving. This has occurred too many times to count after the app launched. Accidents that have been reported include a car hitting a tree, a car running into the back of a parked police patrol car, and one person even crashed into a school.
You Might Get Hit By A Car
If you’re playing Pokémon GO and not paying attention, it’s possible to cross the street without following the crosswalk signals. People have been hit by cars while crossing the street and even walking alongside the highway. One teen even died in Australia after becoming a victim of a hit and run after going out to play Pokémon GO.
You Might Kill Somebody With Your Car
If you think Pokémon GO car accidents are bad, it’s even worse when there’s a fatality involved. That’s what happened in Japan in August of 2016. A driver was distracted while playing Pokémon GO and hit two people walking across the crosswalk in an intersection. One person died and the other was injured.
Pokémon GO Could Put You In Danger Of Being Kidnapped
Players seem to be in their own world and too distracted to notice anything else going on when they are playing Pokémon GO. Many times they let down their guard. They might talk with strangers, walk with strangers, or befriend a stranger and go on a quest together. The real problem is you don’t really know who that person is and you could easily get into a situation where it’s easy to be abducted or harmed.
You Could Injure Yourself
Playing Pokémon GO can be fun, but a lot of people are finding it too easy to accidentally get hurt. There have been reports since the launch that some people have slipped and broken bones. Others have had near-misses or gotten scrapes and bruises. When people are involved this much in a game that requires walking, they are putting themselves in danger.
You Could Be At The Wrong Place At The Wrong Time
This happened to a University of Iowa football player in July of 2016. The defensive end on the Iowa football team was listening to music and playing Pokémon GO in a local park. He was in the location where an armed robbery attempt took place, and he fit the description of the perpetrator. When he didn’t respond to police, guns were drawn. Luckily nobody was harmed and it was just a misunderstanding.
You Might End Up At A Perpetrator’s House
There was a case in Phoenix, AZ, where the New Windsor Hotel was a Pokémon GO beacon. It might have been a mistake because it’s listed as a historic place, but it’s a hotel that was converted to a halfway house and dozens of offenders live there. This is another reason people should be cautious of their surroundings and where they are heading.
You Might Overuse Your Data
If you’re on a strict plan, you might end up going over your data usage which results in extra charges. Another thing to look out for is when you’re traveling to another country and roaming. Kōhei Uchimura, Japan’s Olympic gymnast, did just that. He used the app in Brazil during the Olympics and ran up a 5 million Yen bill which is about $49,000.
You Might Stumble Into A Dangerous Area
Pokémon GO can be dangerous because of outside factors like crime. Many people live in neighborhoods where it’s not safe to wander around with a cell phone in hand because of robberies, and players need to be very careful to stay safe when out hunting for Pokémon characters. It’s important to avoid dark areas and places that seem suspicious.
You Might Get Robbed
When you’re playing Pokémon GO, it’s easy to get lost in the game and ignore your surroundings. It’s already happened to a few people. In Baltimore, players were parked in their car while playing the game when they were held up at gunpoint and forced to give over their possessions, including the cell phones they were using.
Pokémon GO Warns You To Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
A warning message that says “Beware of your surroundings!” is what Pokémon GO users are forced to look at every time that they log in to play the game. Their user agreement puts the responsibility of safety onto the gamer, not the game. During game play, the app also reminds you to look up every so often.
You Could End Up Dating A Player
Since its launch, people have been warning others about the dangers of the game. They have encouraged people to play in groups instead of going solo while hunting for Pokémon characters. This has created friends that have the game in common, and some people have even started dating. The scary thing is it’s hard to really know a person just from the gameplay events.
You Could Fall Off A Cliff
Even though Pokémon GO warns players to pay attention to their surroundings, the warnings are not always heeded. There are so many obstacles in life that you need to watch out for, but if you’re unlucky you might fall off a cliff. That’s what happened to two men in San Diego as they were playing Pokémon GO. They fell 50-90 feet off a cliff and survived.
You Could End Up In A Cemetery
A cemetery may not seem like a big deal during the day, but at night it can be scary. Pokémon GO has been leading people throughout the nation on a chase for characters and some have ended up walking around a cemetery. One lady even got stuck in a tree while playing the game in a cemetery.
You Could End Up In A Strip Club
Pokémon GO gyms, or Pokéstops, are located in many strange places. It’s been reported by many people, and mentioned on Twitter, that they ended up at a local strip club in search of their Pokéstop. This is alarming for adults, but even more so for their children playing the game. Hopefully, these locations will be cleaned up as they are found.
You Might Be Involved In A Suspected Drug Deal
There are two pieces to this puzzle. One is that you might end up in the wrong place at the wrong time while playing the game at 3am because you can’t sleep. Being caught in a middle of a drug deal is usually far from a Pokémon GO’s player intention. The other thing is you could be suspected as a drug dealer by police if you’re hanging out with a few friends at 3am in an empty park playing the game.
Pokémon GO Dangers Are Similar To Texting
When your face is glued to your phone in public, you’re more likely to slow down while walking and move in the direction of the Pokémon monster instead of going with the flow on the sidewalk or even following the law. On foot, another problem is crossing the street in the middle of the road instead of at a crosswalk. It’s also been reported that people are playing when behind the wheel too.
You Could Put Your Children At Risk
Kids who play the Pokémon GO feel a sense of friendship when meeting other players and playing in groups. It’s important to remind your kids about not talking to strangers. The app is extremely clever and catchy but parents also need to be aware of the risk that it could be misused for wrong intent since the game uses your phone’s GPS to track down Pokémon characters.
You Could Get Electrocuted
Utility companies are warning the public to not play Pokémon GO at their locations and to pay attention to the posted warning signs and the no trespassing signs. The reason for this is because Pokémon characters are appearing in places that are off limits to the public or are located in dangerous places. There are so many dangers in an electrical substation that a person could get killed or arrested.
You Could Get Shot
Pokémon GO has been credited with getting people active but also has resulted in many unintended consequences. One such moment happened to a 20-year-old college student in San Francisco. He was playing the game in a park with his cousin late at night when another person came up, shot him in the back, and ran away.
You Could Get Car Jacked
It’s happened before and it could happen again. Two people in Northern California were glued to their phones while playing Pokémon GO for about 20 minutes at a local park in the evening. An armed man approached the two and mugged them. He then took the keys to their car and drove off with it.
You Could End Up Trespassing
It’s been reported that people have trespassed just to catch some new Pokémon GO characters. People have been led to private property, utility substations, other people’s houses, and even the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. If it’s not your home, and you’re not invited in, stay away from private property.
You Could Run Into Somebody While Walking
People who are distracted by the game or wandering in the direction of a Pokémon GO character can easily run into other pedestrians or walk into other players. It’s important to remember that it’s just a game and you should respect others while walking about in public.
You Could Get Arrested In The Airport
Airports aren’t mentioned often when discussing Pokémon GO locations, but playing the game at an airport can put the player in a unique situation if they’re not careful. If you are avoiding security checks or opening emergency doors to catch Pokémon characters, you could be arrested and charged with civil damages claims.
You Could Get Fired
Playing Pokémon GO until the last possible minute has made people late for interviews, meetings, or even to work. You could even have your phone confiscated at work. Also, playing on the job — like two Colorado cops were caught doing — could put you and others in danger while job your responsibilities are thrown out the window.
You Could Be Banned For Life
Pokémon GO can be addicting for some. That’s why there’s a small amount of players trying to outsmart the system and cheat to get ahead. The cheaters are using third party apps or modified apps to unlock features and become unbeatable. It’s unclear how the company is detecting users who are cheating, but they are delivering lifetime bans.
You Could Be Annoying Others
If you’ve ever been to a theater production or some event you found boring, it’s been easy to grab your cell phone and started tapping away. Unfortunately, it’s becoming a problem with Pokémon GO and people are actually moving around when they probably shouldn’t be. They are disrespecting performers and other audience members who paid for their tickets or concessions and wanted to be there.
Four Tips To Stay Safe
1) Pay attention to your surroundings. Distraction can cause injuries. 2) Don’t play while driving. The last thing we need is a dead Pokémon. 3) Play in well-lit areas. If you suspect you are being followed, yell for help and use your phone to call 911. 4) Gamers are strangers, too.. Be cautious of being lured into a bad situation.
Pokémon GO Can Be Fun If Played Safely
There are plenty of dangers present when chasing down characters in Pokémon GO, but those are some of the biggest ones to remember. The game can be fun because it encourages physical activity and it brings people together, but don’t forget to look out for yourself and your friends. Use common sense and pay attention to avoidable dangers. Stay safe and have fun!