The dan­gers Of Poké­mon Go!

J-14 - - Cover Story -

It’s hard to be­lieve that Poké­mon Go was only re­leased a few months ago. The mo­bile game has be­come a phe­nom­e­non — and peo­ple of all ages are hooked. Every­one seems to be­ing hav­ing tons of fun with the app, which has users run­ning around the real world to catch vir­tual Poké­mon. It’s easy to get at­tached to all the cute an­i­mated crit­ters, and that’s the prob­lem: Some peo­ple are get­ting so con­sumed by the game they’re for­get­ting about the real world around them. In fact, peo­ple across the coun­try have got­ten robbed, been in­volved in traf­fic ac­ci­dents and some even walked off of a cliff while play­ing this game, prov­ing that its hid­den dan­gers can­not be ig­nored.

Dis­tracted be­hav­ior

One of the big­gest con­cerns ex­perts have about the game is that play­ers are mak­ing risky de­ci­sions to suc­ceed. “There’s the po­ten­tial dan­ger be­cause peo­ple are do­ing things like look­ing down at their de­vices and walk­ing in front of a car,”

Dr. Gre­gory Jantz, a coun­selor spe­cial­iz­ing in be­hav­ioral and de­pen­dency dis­or­ders, tells

J-14. The game be­comes all-con­sum­ing, which means it’s pulling all of your at­ten­tion and mak­ing the real world — where ac­ci­dents and in­ci­dents can oc­cur — a mere dis­trac­tion. Ac­ci­dents can hap­pen for sure, but this game can also lead you to en­coun­ter­ing dan­ger­ous peo­ple. “Good guys and bad guys alike are play­ing this game,” Dr. Jantz points out.

That leaves po­ten­tial for things like rob­bery or ab­duc­tion.

To avoid putting your­self in jeop­ardy this way, ask a friend who isn’t play­ing the game to join you — and be on the look­out for po­ten­tial dan­gers — while you do. “I call this per­son the

Could you be putting your­self in harm’s way by us­ing this app?

watcher,” Dr. Jantz ex­plains. Set up a sched­ule with your friends so ev­ery­thing’s fair and every­one gets an equal amount of play­ing time.

Risk of ad­dic­tion

The amount of time you spend play­ing the game can be­come an is­sue as well. It’d be easy for this fun app to be­come an ad­dic­tion. “It meets all the cri­te­ria: It’s ex­cit­ing, it’s got the el­e­ment of sur­prise, it’s got com­pe­ti­tion and it’s highly stim­u­lat­ing,” Dr. Jantz tells us.

All of these things make it hard to put down your phone and fo­cus on other things, like your home­work and qual­ity time with fam­ily and friends. Set­ting a timer or keep­ing a sched­ule can help you keep your pri­or­i­ties straight.

The ad­dic­tive qual­ity of the game may also cause you to get im­pul­sive. Like buy­ing a bunch of poké­coins coins to get ahead. “You lose your abil­ity to make good de­ci­sions and spend this money on things you think you need,” Dr. Jantz says. If this sounds like you, re­move your par­ent’s credit card info from your ac­count be­fore your make a costly mis­take and con­sider tak­ing a break from the game.

Cross­ing bound­aries

Your de­ci­sion-mak­ing skills are put to the test with this game. Play­ers have crossed lines they prob­a­bly wouldn’t if they weren’t play­ing the game — like en­ter­ing a des­o­late ceme­tery or tres­pass­ing on peo­ple’s pri­vate prop­erty to col­lect cute car­toon crea­tures. “Be­cause they’re so con­sumed, it doesn’t mat­ter where this is, they have to get what­ever it is,” Dr. Jantz ex­plains. For­get­ting what’s right and wrong in these sit­u­a­tions could lead to dis­as­trous re­sults, like trou­ble with the law.

We un­der­stand that you want to col­lect as many Poké­mon as pos­si­ble, but you have to pay at­ten­tion to the real-life con­se­quences this game can have. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time walk­ing around town com­pet­ing to catch the coolest char­ac­ters. You just have to keep these pre­cau­tions in mind and make sure the de­ci­sions you’re mak­ing are keep­ing your­self and oth­ers safe!

Poké­mon Go added new safety mes­sages, telling read­ers not to tres­pass, drive or en­ter dan­ger­ous area’s while play­ing. Com­pet­ing with friends is part of the fun.Oh, look there’s a Pikachu!

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