Pokemon GO: How To Safely Catch Them All

If you are not playing Pokemon GO, someone you know already is. Since being launched last Wednesday, the free iOS and Android-based app has already become more popular than the dating site Tinder. It is threatening to surpass Twitter in users despite only being readily available in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

If you are one of the few just hearing about this latest craze you have probably asked yourself “what is Pokemon GO?”

Pokemon GO is a video game app that uses augmented reality technology to superimpose Pokemon on real life locations using your phone’s camera. The app then accesses your phone’s GPS features to alert players to the locations where they can catch Pokemon, find items to make Pokemon stronger or easier to capture, and attend Gyms to battle other players.

Since becoming available (it can be downloaded in Canada using unofficial workarounds) hordes of people have been arriving at landmarks to try to catch Pokemon. Others use “lures” as hot spots to attract more Pokemon creatures. You can be walking down the street in front of your own home when a Pokemon appears in your driveway. However, you will not see the Pokemon hiding in plain sight if you are not paying attention to your phone.

The designers of the app are aware that the attention paid to the game can cause users to lose awareness of their surroundings. A warning that appears as the game loads has not prevented hundreds from being hurt while walking, and even skateboarding, to capture Pokemon. The lures used as hot spots have already been used by robbers to coax gamers out of their homes so that they can be easily burglarized.

While there is no harm in trying to “catch them all”, the game can become dangerous for players who become immersed too deeply. GPS location tracking is not a suitable alternative to paying proper attention to one’s surroundings.

Oatley Vigmond is Ontario’s Personal Injury Law Firm. If you have suffered injuries caused by a distracted smartphone user, we may be able to help.

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