Personal Safety & Augmented Reality
Personal Safety & Augmented Reality.
At WSG we are all about safety, and after reading an article in the Wall Street Journal’s online edition, about the potential safety risks of Pokémon Go, we thought we should join the conversation. If you haven’t heard about the phenomenon that Pokémon Go has become then you have probably been safely living under a rock, and therefore have no need for this blog. For the rest of the population, read on for tips on personal safety while playing Pokémon Go.
While some safety tips may sound like common sense, there are too many stories of people not abiding by them. Police stations, newspapers and bloggers alike, are issuing warnings and instructions across the world. Whether you are a player or a parent, personal safety is a real risk in this “augmented reality” game. While Pokémon Go is the first augmented reality game to take off on this kind of scale, it’s unlikely to be the last. With this in mind, we hope our safety suggestions can be put to use for more than Pokémon hunting. They are generally good things to remember for day-to-day life as well.
On the positive side, at least this game is getting people moving about. So we can keep hearing more about the positive effects than the negative, here are our tips…
Personal Safety is Easier in Well Lit Areas.
Our personal safety suggestion: hunt for imaginary monsters during the day.
It’s sad but true, dark alleyways at night are not a safe place to hunt for imaginary monsters. Your chances of coming across a real monster are seriously increased. Even the elusive Charizard isn’t worth risking your safety. Likewise, please don’t follow Pikachu to the depths of a national park at night time. According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, streets and footpaths are the most common areas for robberies. Wandering around at night, completely distracted is unlikely to help this statistic, which brings us to personal safety tip number two.
Personal safety is easier when you are paying attention.
Our personal safety suggestion: Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
The most common safety risk related to Pokémon hunting seems to be an injury from not paying attention. Social media is littered with photos of bruises and sprained ankles from people following a Magikarp or a Weezing straight into a lamppost, or other stationary objects. There are also the more extreme reports of people being robbed while playing the game. The most important thing to remember is to pay attention. The game doesn’t actually require you to monitor your phone at all times. You can run the app in the background and your phone will buzz when you are close to a Pokémon. The game was designed so that you can stop and collect the Pokémon once you have found it.
Personal Safety is Easier when you Don’t Play Games on your Phone While Driving.
Our personal safety suggestion: Put your phone down while driving!
Unfortunately, this fun safety tip has to be included. Even here in Australia, there was a reported Pokémon related car accident in Toowoomba on Friday. The NSW police posted to Twitter:
What do you get when you mix driving & Pokémon Go? $325 and 4 Demerit Points.
Put your phone down when you’re in the driver’s seat. If you cannot text and drive, then it should be obvious not to play games while driving.
Personal Safety is Easier when you’re not Trespassing.
Our personal safety suggestion: Stick to public access places.
Would you go into this area normally? Is it a public place? Is it open at this moment? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you are probably trespassing if you go in. Your personal safety is seriously at risk when you trespass. For example, train tracks. Trespassing on train tracks have some pretty serious consequences. SunWater also launched a safety campaign to remind people about the risks of trespassing and the potential hazards when visiting dams, weirs and channels. Again, if you answer any of the above question “no” then put your safety first and stay away.
Personal Safety is Easier When you Stay in a Group.
Our personal safety suggestion: Make it a group activity.
There is safety in numbers. Apparently, this is more than an idiom. As social creatures, we really do feel safer with others. Be more like wolves, and hunt in packs. That is how they successfully hunt bigger animals than themselves. Not only is it more effective, in this case, two phones are better than one. But it’s safer as well. You are less likely to run into unwanted trouble, or trip over a letterbox if you have someone watching out for you.
Personal Safety is Easier When your GPS is Working.
By all accounts, the fun of Pokémon Go is often cut short due to the phone battery. It’s a common complaint that the game sucks the life out of mobile phone batteries. Be careful that you don’t wander off in the excitement of the hunt and find yourself without a GPS system to get home.
If your kids are playing the game, make sure that they are supervised. A group of teenagers needed to be rescued after they got lost in a cave near Bath in their quest to “catch ‘em all”.
Personal Safety is Easier When you’re Aware of Stranger Danger.
Our personal safety suggestion: Make sure your kids are aware of real stranger danger from a make-believe game.
Police departments all over the world are issuing safety warnings for stranger danger and the game. While it is great to get out and about and socialise with other people, it’s important that the younger players are aware of the dangers at the same time.
Personal Safety is Easier When you’re not Giving Out all your Information.
Our personal safety suggestion: Watch out for third-party “enhancement” apps.
Your personal safety is put at risk when you release too much information about yourself and your location. There are reports of third-party apps that claim to enhance the game but are really more like information phishing apps. Adults take note, and if your kids have their own devices make sure you disable their ability to set up apps without your knowledge.
Personal Safety is Easier When you Don’t get Unwelcome Surprises.
Our personal safety suggestion: Watch your data usage.
Okay, this might not be a direct risk to your personal safety. But as a potential health warning, we felt it necessary to include this. Nine News reports that people around the world “brace for bill shock”, as the app is notorious for chewing through mobile data. They mention that in some countries like the US, certain Telco’s have announced that the app will be added to a list of things that don’t count towards customer data usage. But, it’s unlikely that Australian companies will be following suit. Unless you really like surprises, watch out for how much Pokémon Go is being played on your account.
We hope everyone enjoys augmented reality, just remember to stay in touch with actual safety.
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