Just when you thought there was a lull in the onslaught of apps for your child’s device – out pops Pokémon Go. On the surface, this new virtual reality app is a fun and ingenious game that combines real life with images superimposed over video captured by your phone. Yet, as with any such app, you’ve got to use caution and common sense.
The game allows players a multitude of actions including: capturing, battling, training and even trading these digital/virtual Pokémon that are encountered when logged-in. Parents must be aware, that although this is a free game on a free app – there are also “in-app purchases” that might surprise you at the end of the month.
A future release will provide an optional wearable device called Pokémon Go Plus . This device can be used to help eliminate the many injuries that have been suffered by users that have difficulty navigating their screens and walking at the same time.
The popularity of this new app is unquestionable. After just 24 hours following its launch in early July 2016, Pokémon Go topped the American App Store’s “Top Grossing” and “Free” charts. Not a bad start.
In that brief time, two major events followed: According to The Guardian, armed robbers leveraged the GPS features of the game to lure victims to a remote trap in Missouri. Police believe the suspects used the phone app, which directs users to capture imaginary superimposed onto the real world, to tempt players into secluded areas where they could be easily robbed.
According to the report, “The robbers were able to anticipate the location and level of seclusion of unwitting victims.” NOTE TO PARENTS: If you choose to allow your child to download this app, please also make certain that they use caution when alerting strangers of their future location.
Additionally, during the last couple of weeks since its release, users have been hospitalized after chasing fictional creatures into perilous locations. In one such case, the app inadvertently led one user into someone’s home. Apparently the app had labeled the private home as a “church.”
On July 8th, the game led a Wyoming teenager to a dead body in a river. Shayla Wiggens told local TV station, KCWY, “I just got up and went for my little walk, a walk to catch Pokémon,” The chase led her to a bridge over the river. She spotted two deer on the edge of the river — and a corpse not far from where she was standing.
The world of apps has been and will continue to reshape how we are entertained and how we communicate. However, there will continue to be those unintended consequences that must be considered. Although this new virtual reality game is indeed fascinating – the risk/reward for any app that provides your child’s location to strangers must be considered thoroughly and thoughtfully.