Pokémon GO Safety Tips for Pedestrians, Drivers & Parents

Pokémon GO is a popular augmented-reality game that rivaled Twitter in daily active use when first released, but it's got many concerned about safety, as accidents, trespassing and Google privacy issues have been connected with the app's use.

Here's what you need to know going forward if you want to stay safe and avoid compromising your security while trying to catch 'em all.

1. "You don't have to take another step" - Just Click!

Pokémon GO was developed by Niantic, the same company that created Ingress, an augmented-reality game released back in December 2013. Ingress players were known for getting into trouble with police for going places they shouldn't, and there are similar concerns with Pokémon GO. Niantic CEO John Hanke told Business Insider that users can avoid this, not only by keeping their heads up and paying attention to where they're going, but also by following one important safety tip:

Hanke says that when users see a Pokémon on a map, there's no reason to travel to the Pokémon's exact location. In fact, "You don't have to take another step." Just click the Pokémon.

2. Update Your Pokémon GO App if You Haven't Already

The original Pokémon GO iOS app had some privacy flaws which have since been fixed. It's strongly recommended that users update the app with the latest version if not done already, as the first installment of the Pokémon GO iOS app had access to users' sensitive Google account information. Make sure you sign out and sign back in after updating.

Aside from this, here are a few other technical issues you may encounter and their workarounds: If you're using a Pokémon Trainer Club account and can't login, you may need to login using your Google account instead. Also, if you're having a GPS connection issue, ensure that your phone's location settings are turned on. There have also been server issues, but unfortunately you typically need to wait this out.

3. You Can Report Unsafe PokéStops & Gym Locations

The GPS-based game uses historical sites, well-known landmarks and other safe, public locations for PokéStops and Gyms - places where you can go to power up and battle. Along with current player suggestions, many locations were imported from Ingress.

However, mapping technology can be difficult to keep up to date, so there is an online report form where players can submit information regarding inappropriate or unsafe PokéStop and Gym locations.

4. Don't Travel to Strange Places to Find Rare Pokémon

Niantic says that the rarity of creatures is completely random, so users shouldn't expect to find rare Pokémon just because they travel to rare places, and doing so is ill-advised.

In addition, unlike PokeStops and Gyms, Pokémon creatures can pop up anywhere your phone gets an Internet signal, which could potentially be in dangerous places. Many of the creatures are automatically generated by an algorithm which can match the design of a monster according to its geographic location (i.e., if you're near a lake or in a forested area). However, again, you shouldn't step foot in a place that appears unsafe or on private property. Remember the rule above about simply clicking on your phone's map instead.

5. Don't Play Pokémon GO on the Road

Sometimes the most obvious advice is the most important. An accident has already been reported in which a male driver ran into a tree and totaled his car playing Pokémon GO. Other reports have indicated that drivers are suddenly slowing down in their cars if they spot a rare creature on the side of the road. When playing Pokémon GO while driving, you're putting yourself and others in danger. Plus, you could get a ticket for distracted driving.

6. Watch for Distracted Pedestrians When You're Driving

On the flip side, you should also pay more attention to pedestrians who are paying more attention to their smartphones than where they're walking. You may encounter this more often while the game remains at the height of its popularity.

7. Provide Safety Rules if You Have Younger Children

If your kids play the game, make sure you educate them about not traveling to dangerous places, keeping their heads up when walking around and taking a friend with them on their adventures. Also, make sure that they know to check with you before going to game-related locations.

Other simple tips to follow include:

  • Don't loiter near businesses, homes or other areas where you may look suspicious
  • Be extra careful when playing the game at night and let others know your itinerary
  • Be mindful of other pedestrians; if you bump into someone it could start a confrontation you weren't expecting
  • During the day, bring along plenty of water and sunscreen if you plan on playing the game outdoors for a long period of time
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