Pokemon GO: Is the cultural phenomenon doing us more harm than good?

Pokemon GO is getting people outside. But at what cost?
Pokemon GO is getting people outside. But at what cost?

THE whole world has caught Pokémon Go fever – and it could be doing us more harm than good.

Pokémon became a cultural phenomenon when it first appeared in the 1990s in games designed for the original Nintendo Game Boy.

Now, after being largely out of favour for the past decade, Pokémon is back with a vengeance.

Walk around most major cities and you’ll be sure to see wandering about like zombies, eyes glued to a smart phone searching for Pokémon.

In Perth, police have been called to respond to reports of suspicious activity, only to find Pokémon to blame.

Armadale police almost hit a girl who had just got off a train and had her head buried in her phone playing the game.

Reports say the app will soon have more active users than Twitter.

The game uses a phone’s GPS to work out where you are, and then makes you travel to real-world locations where you can catch Pokémon.

But already there are concerns for those playing the game.

Police are fearful users aren’t paying attention to their surroundings while using the app, leading to potential traffic accidents.

One man, Boon Sheridan, had dozens of people turn up outside his home after discovering the game had declared it a Pokémon Gym, where players can go to train their Pokémon.


Police in Missouri believe four suspected armed robbers used the game to lure victims to a car park by adding “a beacon to a ‘Pokéstop’ to lure more players”.

And there are fears sex offenders could use the same tactics, luring victims to secluded spots.

Nina Hobson, a former UK police officer who worked in the child protection unit, said the dangers are obvious.

“I think the problem is that kids are so obsessed with it that they’re not thinking about the dangers,” Ms Hobson said.

“They’re not thinking logically.

“Opportunists will use technology to be able to commit a crime or to benefit in some way.

“There’s all sorts of dangers. People have almost been run over because they’re not paying any attention to what they’re doing.

“People have been driving and using it – it’s just gone crazy.”

But there are positives – kids are finally getting outside.

After years of being told children only wanted to stay indoors and play video games, finally one has been designed that gets players outdoors.

The catchcry of ‘less screen time’ might not be being heeded, but at least Pokémon Go addicts are breathing fresh air as they look for their next virtual friend.