July 19, 2016
Canada Safety Council
The wait finally ended for Canadian Pokémon fans in mid-July, as the highly anticipated mobile game Pokémon Go launched north of the border, a few weeks after the game first launched in the United States.
At its core, the premise is deceptively simple: after downloading the game, the player walks around in search of Pokémon, which spawn on their screens at random based on their surroundings. For instance, a player is more likely to encounter a water-type Pokémon if they are around water. The player then swipes on their screen, “throwing” a Pokéball at the creature, and if thrown correctly, they catch the Pokémon. It can then be trained, evolved and used in virtual battles.
Many people, young and old, have been using this latest craze as an opportunity to explore their surroundings, wandering around their neighbourhoods in search of that elusive Rhydon. Any opportunity to get physical exercise and become more familiar with surroundings is, of course, extremely beneficial for anyone, and goes to show the benefits of advancement in technology and augmented reality-style games.
While the game is fantastic as far as physical exercise and exposure to the outdoors is concerned, though, it’s important that would-be Pokémon trainers not get so immersed in the virtual world that they lose sight of the real world. Since the release of the game, stories have begun to emerge of people walking into the street, falling due to lack of attention of their surroundings, or walking into compromising situations. Keep your head up, and ensure you’re stopping in a safe area before attempting to catch a Pokémon or stop at a gym.
A few more tips to consider:
- Wear proper clothing when walking around. This includes a good pair of running shoes, appropriate clothing for the weather and, if walking around at night, brightly-coloured clothing to ensure that oncoming motorists can see you.
- Stay in public areas, preferably where there are other people around. Never trespass onto private property and, if you see a Pokémon in an area that doesn’t feel safe – no matter if it’s a common Rattata or an ultra-rare Mewtwo – trust your instincts and steer clear of the area. There have been reports in the United States of malicious users dropping “incense,” an in-game item that lures wild Pokémon to an area, in secluded areas then mugging unsuspecting players who arrive to the area.
- Go Pokémon hunting in groups. This will ensure that you will have other people keeping an eye out for you and vice-versa in case one of you accidentally veers off or is in danger of walking into something or falling.
- When you’re driving, it should be Pokémon STOP. Leave the phone alone while you’re behind the wheel.
- If you’ve got a child who wants to go out on a Pokémon hunt, make sure they’re accompanied by an adult or supervised by a responsible adult at all times. Our recommendation is that any child 12 years of age or younger should be accompanied, but that’s not a hard rule. Consider the child’s maturity and temperament, and use your judgment.
The Canada Safety Council wishes you good luck, safe adventures and fully believes that you can be the very best, like no one ever was!