In case you have been living in a cave for the last few months, Pokemon Go is the latest smartphone craze to sweep through our society. In its simplest terms, the Pokemon Go app allows you to search for Pokemon in real world locations. Your smartphone vibrates to indicate that a Pokemon is near. You then use the touch screen to throw a Poke Ball to catch the Pokemon. After reaching a certain play level, you join one of three teams and engage in, essentially, turf battles.
Pokemon Go can be an exciting, and even educational pastime. “PokeStops” (where players stock up on Poke Balls, potions to heal their injured critters, and other items) are often located at historical markers, art installations, and other interesting sites. Unfortunately, Pokemon Go—like all smartphone use distractions—can be dangerous. Cars have collided, pedestrians have been hit, a Brooklyn man fell into a pond, two people fell off an ocean bluff in Encinatas, California, and many, many people have tripped and been injured—all while in pursuit of Pokemon. Criminals have added beacons to PokeStops to lure individuals to isolated locations to rob them. There are even “financial injuries,” such as the $5,000 phone charge for roaming minutes incurred by a Japanese gymnast while in Rio.
As with everything in life, the use of reasonable care and common sense go a long way in preventing harm. After downloading the app and receiving instructions from Professor Willow, make sure to stay aware of your surroundings and don’t let your pursuit of Pangolin, Spyke, and other Pokemon put you in danger. Remember: Trespass laws still apply—even if Pikachu led you onto the protected property!