The latest trend that has been sweeping through the nation, attracting gamers and non-gamers alike, is the brand new app Pokémon GO. This application, available to both Android and iPhone users, has taken the old gameplay from the various Pokémon games that have been released over the past 20 or so years and transformed it into a scavenger-like hunt for all the 134+ Pokémon scattered around the globe. This game though, unlike its predecessors, requires actual movement of your body in order to find the hidden creatures around your community.
The game uses GPS coordinates to tract your location, meaning, if you walk down the street then your Pokémon avatar (your character) will also walk down the street in unison. The point of this game, and what has made it so catchy, is that you have to go outside and explore your world in order to find and catch these different Pokémon. What needs to be addressed though, is the safety precautions the population of Pokémon GO needs to learn and take seriously. Although the game gives a brief warning during the initial loading page, “Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings,” there needs to be a more direct list of precautions these players take before heading out to “catch them all.” Thus, I have compiled a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to Pokémon GO safety.
If you have no idea what Pokémon GO is, and would like a better understanding before reading the rest of this article, check out this guide on cnet.com!
Pokémon GO Safety: The Don’ts
1. Don’t Play and Drive- The games stresses that players stay alert at all times, and urges its users to NOT play Pokémon GO when driving a car, riding on bikes/skating, or when doing anything that requires a person’s full attention. Yet, I have seen people all over the place playing while driving some sort of vehicle. Yes, it may seem faster to drive to where your Pokémon are… but if you are the driver, please refrain from looking at your phone! Have a passenger take control of the game instead, or just stick to walking! Save lives, don’t play and drive.
2. Don’t Trust Strangers- For some reason, people have been very daring when playing Pokémon GO. However, stranger danger still exists. Don’t go up to random people by yourself, especially at night. Although it may seem that everyone who plays Pokémon GO is your fellow brethren, not every person is a good person. Please don’t get kidnapped or robbed over this app. Use good judgement when out playing.
3. Don’t Trespass- Private property is STILL private property! Just because a Pokémon you have been hunting appears in someone’s yard, doesn’t mean you can walk on another person’s property to catch it. I don’t think, “I’m sorry sir, I was only trying to catch a Pidgey,” is going to fly. (You see what I did there? Haha, Pokémon puns are great.)
4. Don’t Go to “Bad” Areas- This game has been out for about only a week, and people have been robbed and even shot because of this game. My mother was telling me yesterday that some kids wandered into a not-so-good neighborhood and were shot at while catching Pokémon. Plus, robbers have been using Pokéstops (real-world stations to reload on items and goodies) as a method of finding targets to steal from.
5. Don’t Go Past Your Curfew- Although it may seem smart to go Pokémon hunting at night, especially in Arizona where day hunting could lead to heatstroke, minors still need to mind their curfew. Once the clock strikes that special hour, everyone 17 and under better get themselves back home, or face the consequences if caught.
6. Don’t Go Out in the Heat- Of course the developers of Pokémon GO, Niantic Inc., had to release the game during the summer months right? This means that players really need to put special attention on staying cool, covered up, and hydrated when outside hunting.
7. Don’t Wander from Groups- There is a reason the saying “there is safety in numbers” rings true. When out trying to “catch them all,” be smart and go with a buddy or group. That way someone always has someone else’s back at all times. Plus, you are less likely to be targeted when with a group of people.
Pokémon GO Safety: The Do’s
1. Do Go With A Buddy or Group- As I mentioned above, there is safety in numbers. Go Pokémon hunting with a friend, with a few friends, or even with a horde of people if you’d like. I have even brought my mother along while catching some Pokémon around my neighborhood. Not only is it more safe to play with other people, but it is so much more fun too!
2. Do Stay Hydrated and Covered- The sun can be a deadly entity. When you head outside during the day, lather on the sunscreen in order to protect your skin. Also, bring plenty of water whether you are playing Pokémon GO during the day or at night. You can’t continue catching Pokémon if you pass out from from heat exhaustion or burn your skin to a crisp.
3. Do Stick to Safe Public Areas- Although it seems that trespassing has become the new method (still completely illegal) to catching different Pokémon, the best option would be to hunt on public property. I personally don’t understand why so many people are choosing to trespass instead of catch them in a legal and safe manner. I was in a Starbucks yesterday and managed to catch a Pikachu, Meowth, and an Abra while just waiting in line! Public property is where it’s at.
4. Do Get Some Exercise Instead- Instead of using a vehicle to go find your digital creature, use your manpower! Walk, jog, or even run to your nearest hiding Pokémon. If you do chose to use a manpowered vehicle, like a bike or skateboard, make sure not to play when you are in actual motion! This game was built to get people to explore their world, so get outside and do it!
5. Do Make Yourself Noticeable at Night- Heading out at night? Well make yourself visible to cars passing by! Use a flashlight or wear reflective gear. It would be absolutely awful to get hit by a vehicle when out trying to become the Pokémon master.
6. Do Prepare for Any Situation- When going out to find Pokémon with friends, I have left my house almost over prepared. I make sure to pack lots of water, snacks, pepper spray to defend myself, and even an extra external battery charger in case my phone starts to die. Anything can happen once you leave your front porch, so it is always good to be prepared for anything!
7. Do Keep In Contact With Someone- If you have absolutely no one to accompany you on your Pokémon hunting adventures, or like being a lone wolf, make sure to notify someone of your whereabouts. Reach out to a friend, sibling, or parent. That way, if something does happen to you, your loved ones will know where to find you. Communication truly helps increase safety.
What are some do’s and don’ts you’ve thought of while playing or watching others play Pokémon GO? Lets us know in the comments below! Happy hunting everyone, and remember to stay safe out there.