Pokémon Go – the good and the bad

My blood ran cold as I watched, almost in slow motion, as my son ran around a mall parking lot trying to catch a Bulbasaur – unaware of the car behind him.

We’ve grown accustomed to emergency room visits with him, but this in my mind’s eye was going to be far worse. Luckily for us, the driver of said car was far more alert than my son and she slammed on her brakes before that dreadful thump that I was already anticipating actually happened.

This Pokémon Go craze has latched on to my kids like ticks to a dog.

pokemon2For those of you who aren’t sure what it is, Pokémon Go is an experience where augmented reality blends the real world with the virtual world. For example, if you hold your phone and look through its camera, you see what the camera sees. Now imagine a digital character, like a dragon, is placed on the image as if it is really there, breathing fire on your lawn. That is augmented reality.

The game may be a fad but it is unbelievably popular. There is also an up side to the game – and it’s possibly why many people have bought into the craze. Players have to move – walk, run, and even jump – to different locations to catch and train the creatures in the game. They can also fight against other players using their creatures.

Not so long ago we were dragged to the Botanic Gardens for a Pokémon hunt. Hundreds of people were there running around trying to capture or combat for creatures. Parks around the city have become virtual battle arenas.

We thoroughly enjoyed being out in the sunshine, watching our kids racing around chasing Pokémon. Perhaps you’ve seen them too – kids and adults walking as if in a trance, eyes glued to their cellphone screens, looking for something only they can see. Perhaps you’re also one of them.

But watching my son almost walk straight into a car, gave me pause for thought. Suddenly it was not just about a great mix of movement and technology – there are things you need to know before playing this game.

Cell C’s Head of Forensic Services, Jacqueline Fick, also points out that Pokémon Go is not officially available in South Africa yet. So people are downloading it from other places that may not always be safe. Criminals are already putting copies of the game online. Once that copy is downloaded, these criminals can access just about any information about you and the consequences could be severe.

Ideally we should wait for the official version of Pokémon Go to be available from official app stores like Google Play or the Apple App Store. But if you aren’t going to wait, then always make sure that you trust the site you are downloading from 100%.

Chasing Pokémon creatures is a great way to get people moving. But getting you out and about in search of virtual creatures may take you to places where real dangers lurk.

Always be aware of the places you go. Blindly chasing these cute creatures could place you in difficult situations. News wires have at least a story a week about an accident, mugging, even murder related to the search for elusive creatures.

The bottom line is this – don’t do anything online that you would not do in the real world!

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About Meneesha

Online and books editor by day, mum even while I sleep, individual all the time. I live in the beautiful city of Durban - the unpolished gem in South Africa. If I didn't have a family, I'd be that crazy cat lady your mum probably warned you not to feed! Blogging is where I share, vent, rant, laugh and generally be myself. Join the ride!

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