THE LATEST FAD: POKÉMON GO
In the past week or so, you may have heard a thing or two about the latest mobile phone app known as Pokémon Go, which is an augmented reality game in which people are utilizing their phone to locate and catch Pokémon characters. The application utilizes the GPS location features, the camera and other features in order to determine when you are in the game and when/where Pokémon figures will appear before you. My oldest son has requested that I download this application on my iphone countless times in the past week, and I have refrained from doing so in light of privacy and safety concerns in utilizing an app that seems to have the ability to access your private information, as well as your location.
Children and adults alike utilize this app to wander around their neighborhood and other places in search of Pokémon figures that pop up on the screen and you can catch them and add them to your team. No doubt, this is a fun and exciting game, and I am most likely the “worst parent in the world” for failing to timely download the latest and hottest app within a week or two of its release date.
However, there have been reported instances of potential criminal acts resulting from the use of the application in just the first few days of its existence. There do exist safety concerns about criminals or predators targeting certain people through the app in order to commit criminal acts, or trespassing concerns in light of people being so drawn into the app and otherwise unaware of their surroundings, or injuries occurring through accidents that take place while playing the game, such as motor vehicle accidents and/or pedestrian accidents. In fact, there have already been reported instances of trespassing resulting from this game, as well as at least one motor vehicle accident and pedestrian accidents that have occurred while playing this game. It can certainly be a dangerous combination when people are completely immersed in the app and living in the moment of the game while out in the public arena. While I am not saying that I will never download this game, it does seem that more information is warranted as to what information the app has access to, and what information other players might have with respect to your information or location. A recent update to the app purports to limit the access that the app has to any Google accounts, as opposed to the unlimited access that existed when the app first launched. As always, with any reality based game or application, the key is to have fun, while ensuring that you play safely and responsibly, and that adequate parental supervision remains in place at all times.