By now you have heard that more people have downloaded Pokemon Go than any other app ever. That Nintendo’s stock jumped 25% in one week. That it’s getting kids to actually leave the house to go play — voluntarily!
And you have probably also heard of the four ereadaszys
guys arrested in a black BMW somewhere in Missouri for ostensibly luring some players to an secluded area with promises of prime Pokemon hunting, and then robbing them.
So if you are part of the vast web of Very Concerned Adults whose life’s purpose seems to be dreaming up terrible things that can happen to kids anytime they venture beyond the kitchen, you can relax. You’ve got your stranger danger story. Phew! Now you can remind us that anytime people are headed outside, especially the young ones, they had better think long and hard first.
And so the San Francisco Police Department took it upon itself to tell moms and dads that they should “know where your kids are going when playing with the app” and “set limits” — as if parents couldn’t possibly figure this out for themselves. As if this whole “kids going outside” thing is just so new and crazy.
The Department also published this Pokemon Go Safety Tip: “Know your surroundings and pay attention to where you’re going/who is around you. Slow car paralleling a person on foot might be a sign it’s a getaway car.”
Um, yeah. Except that with tens of millions of people playing this game across the entire country for the past week, we have that one BMW in Missouri to point to as an actual menace.
Meantime, over in England, which you’d think has bigger problems to freak out about, the authorities are warning that the app could be used by predators to lure children to their doom. Mind you, the app isn’t even available there yet. But The Telegraph quotes officials warning that “PokÃ©mon Goâ€™s advanced location technology could endanger children by making them easily accessible to criminals.”
Ah, yes. Let’s immediately imbue this outrageously fun game with menace. It’s almost like a parallel universe: Players get points for finding Pokemon, and the warning-class gets points for dreaming up Hollywood-ready predator scenarios. But the warners also get massive publicity, because nothings sells like kids in peril. Even if they aren’t in peril. (Can I remind us all here that stranger-danger is the least likely of crimes?)
So the other day I was walking around my bustling, leafy neighborhood when I saw one mom showing another mom the app. The explainer had her 10-year-old son with her. “Can he go out on his own to play?” I (a stranger!) asked.
“Oh no, no, no,” she said, as if I’d queried, “Would you bathe your toddler in acid?” The other mom agreed: No way.
“What age do you think you’ll let them play on their own?”
Answered Mom #1, grimly laughing: “28.”
The Pokemon game is so fun, so simple, so sharable, it is as if the company invented the 21st century equivalent of the ball — a toy kids can play with on their own, or in a group, or when they’re walking down the street.
But unlike the ball, which came of age before the warning industry, indeed before the dawn of history, kids simply got to go outside and play with it.
Imagine that.- L
Pokemon Go is dangerous because people can use it to lure you into an unsafe situation.
How about this: whatever you’re doing, be aware of being lured into secluded areas by strangers. If you know this, Pokemon Go is a non-issue. If you don’t know this, Pokemon Go is the least of your worries.
If you don’t know that, your inevitable liquidation will doubtless improve the average IQ of the species.
I just can’t imagine living my life in such a constant state of paranoia and fear – it must be exhausting for those who do. I live in Canada, where Pokemon Go has not yet been introduced, much to my 16-year-old son’s chagrin. Although the game doesn’t interest me whatsoever, I do hope it comes to Canada soon, as I think it will be a great game for my son, especially since it means he’ll actually get out of the house and see the world (well, at least the part of the world we live in). Even if he was 8 or 10 years old, I’d still let him play this game.
P.S. C.S.P. Schofield – I like your comment 🙂
It launched in the UK today, but I am more worried about sombies not looking where they are going and walking into me than anyone trying anything malicious
Of course, Pokemon Go is nothing like Hikaru No Go.
(Oh, yeah, Happy Bastille Day, everybody!)
That’s so funny that you wrote about this today! Yesterday I was explaining to my coworkers how the game works; “You view the app, and you’ll see a Pokemon at the end of your street, so you have to walk there and – – ”
“AND there’s a KIDNAPPER waiting there! That’s what I’d worry about!”
I really had to put on my “what would Lenore do?” had and patiently explain to her that letting your 13 and 9 year olds walk down the street, or to the well-traveled bike bath behind our house, or to the neighborhood park 2 blocks away, is not equivalent to having them walk the plank to certain doom (a conversation I have repeated dozens of times to people who vaguely remember seeing the headline about the incident in Missouri).
There nothing wrong with making sure you remember the real world while having fun. But the app should try make sure nobody can lure someone into trouble.
Sigh…….since it could involve kids, of course, we have yet more American OVER reaction to a single crime.
“And you have probably also heard of the four guys arrested in a black BMW somewhere in Missouri for ostensibly luring some players to an secluded area with promises of prime Pokemon hunting, and then robbing them.”
Soooo, how does this pertain to kids? Is there a danger of them getting their lunch money stolen or what?
UK mum of 10 yr old boy here. He really wants pokemon go and having read a bunch of media about it feel pretty aware of the dangers, some much more likely than others. I’d be most worried by him getting hurt in traffic because he was so engrossed/distracted by the game. Possibly on Android the phone vibrates as an alert so you don’t have to be looking at the screen constantly.
But he doesn’t have a sim card in his phone yet. It’s only used where he can get WiFi and I don’t think he’s old enough or needs that yet. He goes out to play and comes home by a certain time just like we did in the ‘old days’.
I may download it and let him do it on my phone but there begin my real problems with it: the access the app requires on my phone and the battery drainage.
However I’ll probably give it a try in the interests of fairness.
Ha! Our local news is reporting about the more likely danger with this game, getting hit by a car:
And the game doesn’t make kids(15!) walk in traffic, their legs take them there. If a 15 yo doesn’t have the sense not to walk in traffic and get hit by a car, imagine in a YEAR when she gets her license!
We went to a state park earlier this week that’s on several thousand acres. We go there every year and it isn’t usually crowded, but this week it was….with kids playing Pokemon Go. I saw dozens of teens on the trails, heads down in their phones. At first I tsk-tsked it to my son- who goes out in nature and is glued to their phone? But he told me about the game and what they were looking for in this park. I think it’s great!
Get them outside in a park. I told my kids the story of a class trip we took to this very park to do orienteering with compasses on an hunt like this back in high school and how we covered 6 miles trying to complete it. The technology has changed, but it’s still getting kids out. Have some sense of your surroundings, but go out and play…something!
To be fair, Team Rocket should be Registered Sex Offenders. They’ve kidnapped Ash Ketchum and Pikachu many times over the past 20 years. Hell, they’re repeat offenders!
Honestly the only thing I was worried about with this game are the people (adults and kids alike) who go for a Pokemon in the street and are not paying attention to traffic
@Derek: Apparently somewhere in the U.S. there is a group of adults who are playing Team Rocket in Pokemon Go, so that they can give little kids an ego boost from beating them.
I just hope one thing doesn’t happen. Nobody is deemed suspicious because some idiot doesn’t know them and calls the cops. Like cops don’t have better things to do besides deal with your imaginary villian who hasn’t done anything but be there!
Theresa, that’s like saying “Sure, candy is tasty but the candy should make sure no one uses it to lure someone into trouble” How is the app supposed to know if someone is attempting to lure someone into trouble? Because if it can now read minds we have much bigger problems on our hands!!
It their game if people are hacking it to lure someone into trouble then they need to deal. They choose where everything goes in the real world so they are who have take Some responsibility for it.
On Tuesday I was out setting the hose in the yard when I noticed a slow moving car with a young man driving. And then he went down the street again. On the third trip I gave him a good look, thinking he was casing the neighborhood, when I noticed him staring at his cell phone. He drove around the cul-de-sac, came out and left the neighborhood. It then dawned on me that he might have been playing Pokemon. Yesterday, with a storm approaching, I saw a man carrying a young child. Thinking that his car broke down I opened the door to see if I could help. That is when I noticed him on his phone, staring up into space, then walking two hundred feet and staring up again. What an idiot. Out in a storm, with a toddler, playing a game? Sounds dangerous to me.
“Nobody is deemed suspicious because some idiot doesnâ€™t know them and calls the cops.”
Or call the cops on kids without adults playing this game. Or call the cops on kids playing nicely, period, in the streets and public parks.
But one of the drawbacks of this game is that it can lead to trespassing on private property. Some businesses have embraced it and found ways to profit over the increase in customer traffic.
My daughter biked to swim early this morning and ran into several of my older son’s friends playing this game. Seriously, if this game is getting 15 year-old boys up before 9am in summer and out walking around their own neighborhood getting exercise, I have to say that’s impressive. Better than catching type 2 diabetes….
Then you’ll surely enjoy the story out of SLO, CA, about a Pokestop being mysteriously established near a sober living facility for sex offenders, among others.
What’s with the Pentamom bashing? She just gave a common sense alternative to stupidly worrying about *this specific app* (though some quotation marks may have been handy).
My paper had an article about this game, and off to the side, in a separate ‘square’, like the remarkable but not essential part of the Pokemon story it is, was the short news story of some teens playing this game and walking to a pond/small ‘canal’ (does English even have a word for something between ditch and canal??) or something, where they found not just the Pokemon but also a floating corpse. Heh.
@Jason- sex offenders, STDs, so many opportunities to educate teens with Pokemon:
It may have not happened yet but I am betting it only a matter of time. People have done it to their own neighbors so why not strangers playing a game. They once got an old man beat up for the crimes of not speaking English and taking a walk. So dangerous!
Papilio — thanks for standing up for me but I don’t think Schofield was bashing me. I think he was agreeing with me.
It’s all the rage down here in NZ. Wish my girls were into it. It’s causing some hilarity though, with one ‘gym’ being out in the harbour – not the safest place to be in wintertime â˜º – and a carload stuck for a while on Brooklyn hill, having paid no attention to winter closing times (though they captured a lot while they waited to be let out â˜º). And evidently Darwin police are having problems with people trying to break IN to the police station….
Great fun all round!
Theresa — the people using the game to make trouble aren’t doing anything the game can prevent. They’re not hacking it, they’re just taking advantage of how the game works and the fact that there are people around eager to find characters to capture.
How would you propose the makers of the app prevent this? Including a mind-reading function so that people can only use it if their intentions are wholly innocent?
It’s like saying the county fair should change their policies so that pickpockets aren’t let in at the gate.
Hineata, that’s an interesting dilemma. Obviously, the game was designed for summertime. So do they make everyone in the Southern Hemisphere wait six months, or do they encourage people to be out and about in the winter when conditions are somewhat more dangerous in general? The former seems the logical choice, but people would howl at having to wait that long.
It’s not the Potential PokÃ©mon Predators that keep me awake at night in a cold terrified sweat.
It’s the 300-pound Mall Robots run amok! 😉 See below:
(As we’ve observed time and time again, once you start looking for highly unlikely things to worry about, you find them everywhere!)
@Pentamom….I think it would have ‘killed’ kids to have to wait for summer â˜º. And it’s school holidays right now, so has been great to see kids out and about in the not-too-bad weather so far. I guess people just have to use their brains and know their limits. It has been a couple of adult groups so far using that harbour ‘gym, and hopefully no one uses it today….pretty yucky out there at the moment.
Midge did find one in our house, so hopefully there’s a few in ardent gamers’ homes to keep them occupied today…â˜º.
Completely off topic vent here. Well, I guess it’s on the topic of over “protecting” kids.
My 9yo got sent home from sleep-away camp this week. Why? Because of water obsession on the part of the staff / volunteers.
It was hot out, so they demanded that the kids drink 8oz of water per hour, plus 2 water bottles full at each meal. They demanded it so forcefully that my kid was afraid of the consequences should she fail to comply.
She drank and drank until she could drink no more. With a queasy stomach, she said she didn’t feel well. They decided she was dehydrated and insisted that she drink more. This happened every time she reported that she still didn’t feel well. They called me twice about this Tuesday afternoon. I suggested they just let her body work things out and check back with me the next day. They didn’t like this but backed off.
Come evening and I got another call. The cabin chaperone had dragged my kid back to the nurse’s office because she had wrapped herself in her sleeping bag to avoid being eaten by bugs. Cabin lady insisted she was too hot to be wrapped in a sleeping bag. Kid said she was not hot. They also said she did not eat dinner because her tummy was still upset. They were still demanding that she drink water continuously. I asked them to let her sleep and call me the next day. Cabin lady was floored, saying that if this were her kid, she would be worried about her health and come get her. They also said they were afraid of needing to take my kid to the hospital for dehydration overnight. But they backed off and let her stay the night.
8:30 next morning my kid’s stomach was still upset and she was still being made to drink water, so she could not eat much breakfast. At that point they said she was “shuting down” and I needed to come immediately and take my kid home. (Actually they said I should take both of my kids home, but I pushed back, since there were no reports of any problems with my other kid. I guess they thought they’d punish both kids for having such a neglectful mother?) I took 4 hours off work to go get my kid. I had to wait for her to return from canoeing (with water in hand!), so apparently she had not in fact “shut down” as they told me. As we drove away, she said her stomach felt almost normal, and we got some food and she ate it just fine. She did say she was glad to leave, because all the attention and obsession over her body heat was freaking her out. But I was not pleased that she missed half a week of activities over someone’s insanity. Drinking too much water is dangerous too, but I guess nobody ever told these people that.
I asked my kid how the other kids were handling the over-watering problem. She said they were spilling the water out when the adults weren’t looking. My kid was afraid to do that lest she get caught and kicked out. :/
In Scotland we would call something between a ditch and a canal a burn and something slightly bigger than a burn might be a stream.
But these kids/teenagers could have come across a dead body in a burn when they weren’t playing pokemon go too.
I went out to catch pokemon with the kids earlier but the app kept freezing and we only caught 1! They were a bit deflated. Hopefully in the coming days and weeks the app will be updated to fix glitches.
@SKL – That amount of water sounds quite over the top. Am not surprised your daughter felt ill. I thought the adult ‘dose’ was only about 8 glasses, or two litres, per day? At the rate you’re indicating, they’re drinking at least four litres! I love my water, but I would struggle as an adult to down that much.
I really think you should write to the camp organizers, as much to save future kids this nonsense. Good luck with finding a better alternative for your girl. ..
You can’t take the Telegraph seriously, it’s like the Daily Mail’s older the brother – the one who was only kept back one year in school instead of two years.
More fear, uncertainty, & doubt – stopped watching the news a few months ago & it’s done wonders for my blood pressure.
SKL: there are very simple easy ways to tell if someone is dehydrated (I’m in nursing school). It sounds as if not one single person at this camp had any medical training – I mean real medical training, not an employee orientation with three pamphlets & a CPR dummy. I’d recommend finding another camp and explicitly asking about kids independence.
Hello, long time reader, first comment, i want to just leave this link here, Pokemon Go helped people to go outside, talk to strangers and help them with their depression:
SKL: That is actually pretty horrible! Like the previous commenter I looked up some guidelines for water, and that seems way over the top even for an adult being outside in the heat all day. I agree that you should write to the camp with some info. Maybe talk to your pediatrician and have him/her give input. The symptoms your daughter described do sound a lot like what I found for over hydration which, although rare, can be very dangerous. It sounds like the camp freaked out over’ hydration, and went too far in the other direction. It’s good that according to your daughter, most of the kids are ignoring this directive and dumping their water out on the sly. ‘Hydration’ is one of those things that we have way overcomplicated in modern society.
I had a good laugh last night. There was an over the top frantic post on my neighborhood’s Facebook page by a concerned neighbor saying that she was seeing “several” people she didn’t recognize walking around the neighborhood looking “very suspicious.” One of these people stopped right in front of her house. He was walking a dog, looking at his phone and then looked directly at HER HOUSE! With herself and her husband standing RIGHT THERE on the porch! Fortunately, he walked away.
Now, there are over 500 houses in my neighborhood, so I’m not sure how she thinks she knows everybody who lives there so well that seeing a few people she doesn’t recognize out walking would necessitate a warning to the whole neighborhood about marauding strangers, but I do know that I walk the neighborhood from time to time and almost never see anybody else outside, so I guess seeing ANYBODY outside might freak this woman out.
Anyway, the funny part is that a man commented on her Facebook post saying, “Hi! I live over on xxxxxxx Court. That was probably me out in front of your house today. I was playing Pokemon Go. Guess I should have said hi.”
Let’s be realistic here, no one is going to use this app to kidnap a kid. Pokeballs just aren’t big enough to hold a human child. 😉
@ C.S.P. Schofield
“If you donâ€™t know that, your inevitable liquidation will doubtless improve the average IQ of the species.”
So basically this the app-version of the Darwin Awards?
Though considering the car accidents that have happened already, maybe its beginning to work.
Theresa is on to something here. While we are at it we should insist that automakers make sure their windowless vans cannot be used to abduct kids, adhesive manufacturers do something so duct tape cannot be used to restrain kids and pharmaceutical companies do something so their products cannot be used to sedate or kill kids. Don’t forget builders making sure the homes or structures and they build can never be used to hold a child.
I’m sure there are more and maybe Theresa can head up the government agency to do this. We can call it SKIBS. Safer Kids By Stupidity.
@Pentamom: Whoops! I guess I misinterpreted a couple things then :-/
@SKL: I take it those people have never heard of that student hazing when a teen was forced to drink so much water that he (almost?) died from it? Four liters a day (thank you Hineata) sounds indeed nauseating! And how on Earth do they think kids as old as NINE don’t know if they’re thirsty??
@Becks: thanks for the vocabulary. Not sure if I dare use ‘burn’ for something not to do with fire, or ‘stream’ for water that doesn’t move much… 🙂
@SKL @Hineataâ€“ “That amount of water sounds quite over the top. Am not surprised your daughter felt ill. I thought the adult â€˜doseâ€™ was only about 8 glasses, or two litres, per day?”
Yes, unless the adult is a high-performance athlete, two liters is the ‘dose’. In fact, any more than that, under certain circumstances, can make a person sick with Overhydration, which can throw off the balance between water and sodium the person’s blood. What the people at your kids’ camp did was very dangerous, and if your other kid is still there (and wants to stay there), I would recommend you tell him to flat-out ignore the staff when it comes to the water consumption. Or just plain out saying something because, yes, it’s dangerous.
About the game, my son is way too young to have a phone with 3G, so I put a thick rubber protector on one of my phones and handed it too him so he could play. As it turns out, my neighborhood is popular in the game because there are pikachus around or something. As far as I understand, the ‘lures’ are meant to lure pokÃ©mon, which means they gather more in a certain area, and though I do see how more pokÃ©mon means more people running around to catch them, I just can’t get out of my mind that most people that play this are mostly people who want to enjoy something from their childhood.
Admittedly, I HAVE heard adults and teenagers interacting with my son, but it’s has all been around the lines of “Hey, where did you get that pokÃ©mon?” and my son pointing in whichever direction, or “Oh! What team are you?!” (Because you can apparently join a color team when you play) and then high fives when they like the answer. I only walked around with him the first ten minutes, and then he was ready to walk around on his own. It’s also good that the app itself has a map, so no lost child for me.
I really love the concept of this game and have played it (my girl is a bit too young to be able to play but mommy plays it lol) . What I really like is seeing kids and even adults out and about in the neighborhood. I recently moved from a pretty active apartment complex where my lawn was apparently the neighborhood Star Wars reenactment play area, to a suburb where, despite a nice big centrally located park, I was rarely seeing kids. I knew kids were there because most people rush to move here for the school ratings, but I wasn’t seeing them – until this game came out and now it seems even kids who aren’t playing it are back in that park. My daughter was able to make her first friends in the neighborhood because the park actually had kids in it! I talked with one of the dads and he was expressing concern that kids don’t get out enough as well. I have high hopes that kid’s playing this game will start to make it normal for kids to be out and about again.
Glad I found this website! I have some outside pressures to do certain helicopterish things I don’t agree with and this gives me a little extra confidence to stick with my intuition.
Papilio — I pointed out that those who don’t know that going off with strangers is risky have bigger problems than Pokemon Go.
Schofield chimed in that those who don’t know that will probably wind up removing themselves from the species, therefore doubtlessly improving the IQ average.
His “you” construction might have thrown you off, but he wasn’t referring to me, but to people unaware of the basic common sense rule I stated — that you don’t go off with strangers to secluded places. He meant “one who does that,” not, “You, pentamom.”
@Pentamom: Yes, I got that by now… Being tired didn’t help, I guess 🙂 Thanks anyway 🙂
Just this morning on Popsugar – don’t ask me how I linked to it originally, but wish I hadn’t, though this was fun – some stupid mum from Tarentum PA (never heard of it, but maybe y’all should avoid it!) was urging parents not to download the game because her ‘child’ had been hit by a car 30 minutes after having it downloaded on Mum’s phone.
‘Child’ is 15! 15! Wouldn’t you be embarrassed if your 15 year old was too dumb to check for traffic while chasing imaginary objects? No, this mum is on TV ‘warning others’. Warning them of what? To check that their kids know how to cross the road before letting them out of the house?
Am trying hard to gather up the pieces of my blown mind right now – pretty messy work!
“Pokemon Go helped people to go outside, talk to strangers and help them with their depression:”
I can remember when people were able to go outside and talk to strangers, and Pokemon hadn’t even been invented.
It was all done without electronic aids and nobody considered it extraordinary.
But Things Are Different Now(tm)
@BL: Ah, yes, back in the mythical days when people didn’t have depression, which is a PHYSICAL ILLNESS OF THE BRAIN. What did they do, exercise their WILL POWAH to command this PHYSICAL ILLNESS to go away? Did they also use WILL POWAH to cure, oh, I dunno, migraines? Epilepsy, perhaps? Ooh, ooh, I know! Brain tumors! With WILL POWAH!
I am so fricking tired of that nonsense, I can’t even tell you. WILL POWAH. Uh huh. Yep.
I am sitting here over a paper diary, taking an online break while I mull over what words to put into it, because depression eats the past and the future. Without a tangible record of the nice time I had today, it will be gone in a week, tops. I simply won’t be able to remember it. But depression also takes your desire to do nice things for yourself, because that little reward your brain gives you when you do something nice for yourself? It turns way down…or off.
As it happens, mild exercise, say from a walk, still tends to produce a temporary brain-reward. It wears off really quickly, but it does happen.
And as it happens, knowing that somewhere on that walk you will succeed in a game, like maybe in the very next minute, not some nebulous future you can’t even see because depression does that…can produce a whole series of temporary brain-rewards. And when depression reaches out to gobble up your past? Look, there in your phone: you really did catch a Pokemon today. That good thing did happen. There’s the proof.
And as it also happens, being able to instantly look at your phone and see immediate and lasting evidence that you did have that good experience helps you re-experience it.
And that’s how Pokemon Go helps people with depression.
I can’t play it myself, as it happens, because I have mobility issues. But I’ve listened to other people with depression who have.
Also, here, educate yourself:
Parts 2 and 3 are on the same site; they deal with what it takes to fix depression enough to have it not kill you or destroy your ability to do anything. (Hint: Not WILL POWAH.)