It was waiting to happen. There was going to be, at some time, something in the path of the game that has captivated the world.
There are quite a few critics of Pokémon Go, and they are not the folks without smartphones. Objection to the new augmented reality app is coming from people keen about the safety of children in the real world and in cyberspace.
Swetha Muthanna says she is anxious about the impact of Pokémon Go on her 17-year-old’s life. “I worry all the time; uppermost in my mind is physical safety, the kids are so absorbed by phone screens, walking on the road looking for Pokémons. Here, one-ways are not completely one-ways, and if you aren’t looking both ways before crossing the road, it could be really dangerous,” she says. Her son recently had a close shave when he walked on to a busy road, completely immersed in the game.
Pokémon Go is supposed to be good for you as unlike other games that confine you to the couch, it gets you on your feet and makes you walk. While Pokémon Go India has not yet been launched officially, teenagers have managed to circumvent this by downloading third party APKs, or bypassing the country-specific signup options for iOS. “Navigating the system and looking for clues,” Ms. Muthanna says, “will land you up in all kinds of places, some of them may be isolated and not necessarily safe places.”
It is also something that concerns Avanti Nishant, whose son Dhruv took up the game three weeks ago.
“I have told him not to go anywhere without informing me. Also, I try and keep his phone with me on weekdays when I am at work and cannot monitor him,” she says.
Concerns such as these are not misplaced. Media reports from across the world have described children landing up in sex gadget shops or getting knocked down by speeding vehicles while playing the game.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) in the United Kingdom has written an open letter to the MD of Nintendo U.K., one of the three promoters of the game, expressing concern over “Pokémon Go, which appears susceptible to being hijacked by users who wish to harm other players and as such raises fundamental child safety concerns.”
Pokémon Go uses a lot of data on the phone, apart from the GPS and camera to enable its version of reality to work. It also involves a gamer to cover distances on foot and go seek random spots in cities for Pokémons, Pokéstops and gyms.
Besides, there is the whole addiction factor that creeps in.
“It’s an addiction, and it is scary because it comes with other things being put on hold. My son used to love squash, would never miss practice, but he’s putting that on hold,” says Ms. Muthanna.
Peter Wanless of the NSPCC, in his letter to Nintendo, warned how the game provides adults wishing to harm children an opportunity. “It is well documented that the Internet provides a gateway for adults who would wish to exploit and prey on children and apps without appropriate safety features inbuilt into the design help them in this.”
Vidya Reddy of Tulir – Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse said it was important to “ensure that some safety measures are taken to prevent the exploitation of children through the net.”
[Source:- The Hindu]