Is Pokémon Go a health and safety issue?

A number of organisations say Pokémon Go is a serious health and safety risk 

Pokémon Go is a game app that has become a global phenomenon, with millions of new users downloading the game in the last week, but it has been surrounded by controversy as health and safety fears grow.

In a nutshell, Pokémon Go is a free location-based reality game that allows the user to wander the streets and use their smartphone to ‘catch’ Pokémon cartoon monsters.

The game, however, has brought up a few health and safety concerns after a number of stories have come to light.

In Bosnia, there are still 120,000 undiscovered mines left over after the Bosnian War, according to a demining group and they have sent out a warning to users of the game to avoid wandering into dangerous areas.

In Manchester, three students were playing the game on their phones and had them stolen at knifepoint. Greater Manchester Police have issued a warning to users of the app about the dangers and urged the public to pay attention when it comes to their surroundings.

“We know that criminals move quickly to exploit the latest developments to target victims and Pokémon Go will already be in their sights.” Said Detective Superintendent Joanne Rawlinson.

Pokémon characters can literally appear anywhere, in restaurants, in the park and have even been known to trespass on the railway.

The British Transport Police received a report of two children seen playing the game whilst on the railway lines in Bristol.

This represents a huge health and safety risk for both children and adults, who may end up on the railway lines whilst fixated on their phone playing the game.

NSPCC have released a guide for parents of children using the app, to help keep them safe.

Some of the key points include, encouraging them to play the game with an adult, or to stay with a group of friends, don’t trespass onto the railways, look where you are going and don’t be lured into going somewhere that isn’t safe for a child to be.

Players of the game have also been advised to stand still whilst trying to catch Pokémon, so that they don’t trip over and users have been asked not to play the game whilst driving.

In what seems to be the first death whilst someone was playing the game, a young man, aged 18, from Chiquimula, which is around 120 miles from Guatemala City, was ambushed and shot whilst playing the game with his 17-year-old cousin.

The police investigating the crime are unsure why they were targeted but think that the attackers could have found the two young men by using the Pokémon app, as the game includes location features that make it possible to encourage a player to head for a certain area, or locate other players.

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