If you’re reading this, chances are you know what Pokemon Go! is, which is crazy considering it was just released on JULY 6th. I first heard about it from my brother-in-law who told me it’s popularity was already competing with Twitter within days of its release.
Here are some interesting stats concerning the new Pokemon craze:
According to Qualtrics, 16% of trainers say they play for over 4 hours a day, 10% admit to trespassing while playing, and 85% of say they have played while driving a car.
It’s also been discovered that over 60% of Android users have downloaded Pokemon Go and use it every day. The game has already crashed the internet by shutting down the game’s servers, and according to Buzzfeed, 29 relationships have already ended thanks to Pokemon Go (ha! And that’s only those that are reported).
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On a more dangerous note, the game has already claimed it’s first fatal victim (18-year old ambushed and shot), as well as several robberies and assaults, as well as rescues from hazardous locations. News channels are already covering these incidents and the game was only released weeks ago!!!
Now of course I share these stats just for fun, but as with many popular things, there are of course some risks. I’m not here to spoil all the fun and tell you not to let your kids download the game–that of course is entirely up to you–I am however, going to share a few risks and dangers you should be aware of if your children are going to participate. I’ll list them under 3 categories: Security and Privacy, Some Tips For You as Parent, and then some safety tips.
Pokémon Go Cyber Security and Privacy Guidelines
Because this game has literally become an overnight sensation, cyber criminals are looking to take advantage in a variety of ways. A trojanized version of the app was released within days of the official app releasing in New Zealand and Australia and more are likely to come.
What you can do –> Make sure you only download apps from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Even at that, the most recent malicious app was found in the Google Play Store, titled “Pokemon GO Ultimate,” but was reported and removed. If you have Norton Mobile Security, they have what’s called an App Advisor which automatically scans for malicious apps before they can be downloaded. If you have kids or teens, this is highly recommended.
Also advise your kids NOT to search the internet for game cheats and hacks. As with all popular games, there are a lot of websites and scams out there based upon “game hacks” that end up stealing personal information, identity, or installing viruses on your computer. If you don’t already have a protection plan installed on your computers, I highly recommend the Norton Security Premium because it includes a family safety package, that not only lets you know what your kids are doing online and lets you set limits, but you can also protect all of your kid’s devices!
For example, Norton noticed this vulnerability:
“Currently some iOS users and some Android users do not get asked permission to access anything. If signing in via Google, you are potentially allowing the game full access to your Google account. This means that the app has access to your contacts, e-mail, Google Drive documents, and more.”
Although the developer has issued a statement saying they have fixed the issue, it’s good to be aware. Risks of physical danger are also emphasized in the terms of service, going as far as recommending you get an insurance policy to cover injuries that could occur while playing. Again, I’m not trying to put a damper on the fun, but just be aware that this game can be dangerous, and put some safeguards in place to keep your kids safe while playing!
Pokemon Go Advise For Parents
Here are a few tips that might be wise to read over if you have kids that are playing, or want to.
- Play with them. One of the fun things about this app is that it has been popular with both adults and children, so if your children want to play this could be a great way to interact and be involved. If you have no interest in playing, at least download the app and be familiar with it so you know what you children are experiencing when they play.
- Stranger Danger. A huge part of this game involves leading people to public areas and landmarks, which will attract a good amount of strangers to the same areas your children are gathering. It’s best to make sure there is an adult present, but if there isn’t, at least teach your kids some basic “stranger danger,” advise them to stick to a buddy system, and make sure they are checking in with you.
- Be Aware of “Lures” Users can set up a “Lure” that allows other players can see their GPS location on a map and alerts them of a surplus of Pokémon. They can be set up by anyone, even child predators, which makes them pretty dangerous in my opinion.
- Ground Rules Set boundaries for how far your kids can go while playing, who they can be with, and make sure they keep in contact with you throughout play. This may sound extreme, but crazy things have already happened and this app hasn’t even been out for a month!
- GPS Tracking. Keep track of your kids via a GPS tracking app in case of an emergency. Norton Family Parental controls has multiple apps for tracking your child’s location on both Android and IOS.
Pokemon Go Safety Tips
The app uses Google Maps along with your GPS location to help you navigate your way to nearby Pokemon; however it’s not going to notify you if for instance a tree or curb is in your way. Many injuries occur to those with their eyes glued to their phones while they are walking. My husband and I sat at the park the other day and just observed all the teens around us that were glued to the app. Several were walking, but one particular dude was on his skateboard and not paying attention to anything but his screen. I’m almost positive he’s going to experience some physical harm. Please remember that you don’t have to be staring at your phone, you will be notified by sound or vibrate if there is a Pokémon nearby!
Also be aware that robberies have occurred. Make sure someone always knows where you are and consider keeping a power bank on hand since the GPS tracking uses a lot of your battery. You don’t want to be stuck in a unfamilar location with a dead phone in case you need to contact authorities or 911.
And please, please please. Don’t play while driving.
Do You Know Parents of Kids Playing this Game? Share this article with them and help prevent keep injuries and tragedies!