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Be aware when playing Pokemon Go

Priority Level: 
22 July 2016

News media are reporting on a range of incidents involving players of the highly popular augmented reality mobile game Pokemon Go, including near-misses between cars and pedestrians and youths being fined after playing while driving, crowds of players allegedly being waterbombed by residents near a park in Sydney’s west and players being robbed at gunpoint in a southern Sydney park.

These reports highlight a number of risks that players may unnecessarily subject themselves to when playing the game. Stay Smart Online recommends that if you play Pokemon Go or other similar games, you familiarise yourself with these risks and endeavour to avoid these risks at all times.

Pokemon Go enables players to catch digital creatures called Pokemon that appear on smartphone screens in real-world surroundings.      

Staying safe

You are advised to remain aware of your external environment when playing Pokemon Go and to pay attention to all warnings from police and other government authorities.

Tasmania Police has warned players to ‘never Pokemon and drive’, pointing out that it is ‘not legal or safe to drive while using a mobile phone,’ and ‘when chasing Pokemon on foot, please look up, pay attention to your surroundings and watch where you are going. Be alert when crossing the road and never stand in the middle of busy roads.’

Tasmania Police added that players should not go onto private property or areas they would otherwise not go if they weren’t playing the game.’ In a similar warning on Facebook, Western Australian Police advise players that ‘I was collecting ‘Pokemon’ is not a legal defence against trespassing.’ The Western Australian service also advised players to tell their families when they were going out, where they were going and when they expected to be home.’   

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Office of the Children’s e-Safety Commissioner (OCeSC) have jointly advised of risks such as:

  • locations that could be unsuitable for young players and also adults
  • child players being too young to play the game unsupervised
  • interacting with others who are not suitable for the child
  • walking while looking at a phone while playing.

As well as advising players to ‘remember the real world – look up!’, ACMA and the OCeSC advise parents to talk to children about the games they’re playing and understand what is involved, and to set boundaries based on the child’s age and family values.

More information

Stay Smart Online has information on staying secure when using mobile devices.