In just a little over one week, Pokémon Go has made more than $14 million, and has roughly 9.5 million active daily users, with numbers continuing to grow. It is estimated that the gaming app is on 5 percent of smartphones. It is a phenomenon that has taken the globe by storm.
If you aren’t monitoring your kids’ phones or reading the user agreements of the apps they’re downloading, here’s some key information that you need to make note of when it comes to Pokémon Go.
The game collects the information about location of users, when they arrived, how long they stayed, who they were with, and more. Using the app also involves access to cameras and photos on the phones used to play, access to users’ USB storage, contacts, network connections, and more.
Although the developers of Pokémon Go, Niantic, Inc., have stated that they are working to reduce the reach of total control on the app in the Google Account Scope, it still gathers and disseminates data about its users as a “business asset” in the same way that the app Tinder does. The fact that there are millions of users on this app that downloaded in the last seven days, it is highly likely that most people do not realize the dangers of their data being shared.
Considering the data of millions of users is being collected, revealing info about their preferences, locations, and patterns, hackers are certainly paying attention and will eventually try to break through Niantic, Inc. servers to gather the data either publically or secretly.
The game requires users to be 13 years old, or have parental consent, which involves parents providing a lot of information. This is in fact keeping with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). However, this has been required before and developers know that these limits will likely be jumped right over by tech savvy kids.
Although downloading the app is free, they are monetizing it within game enhancements for certain items and features that can only be accessed via in-app purchases. Players can spend real money on PokéCoins, the in-game currency of the app. But, some incidental costs people aren’t talking about is data. If you consider the amount of time this game requires players to be online and streaming data. It’s sure to eat up your allocated data usage on your cell plan in no time at all.
There has already been reports of injuries occurring from playing the game, including falling while walking and even more extreme: people crashing at low speeds while driving. Add in the issue with tweens and teens who are often not aware of their surroundings while engrossed in technology, and it is obvious there could be many more injuries coming down the line.
Police departments internationally are already asking people to use common sense, and be aware of how they appear when playing the game. The police are receiving an increasing number of reports that end up being people playing in the dark, popping out of bushes, etc., which are being interpreted as an attack or concern or suspicion of someone lurking. This situation alone can present serious repercussions, and have police spending time and resources unnecessarily.
It is helping to end the summer boredom that typically hits around this time of the school break, and parents are excited to see their kids heading outdoors to play Pokémon Go. It is also interactive and social and physical, unlike many other sedentary tech games.
In light of the Pokémon Go frenzy, we are reminded of how important is for parents to talk with their kids about the numerous dangers online gaming presents, and stress that they exercise caution to avoid serious implications.
When it comes to the latest tech fads our kids will automatically want to jump on the bandwagon, but like all things tech-related, it is imperative to monitor their usage, set time limits and strike a balance.