Originally posted here by Dr. Katherine Leaming-Van Zandt, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, TX.
Since its release on July 6, 2016, Pokémon GO has generated enthusiasm, excitement and entertainment for millions of children, adolescents and adults! This “location-based augmented, reality mobile game” has players running (and driving) around neighborhoods searching for and capturing virtual Pokémon and digital eggs. Unfortunately, as players keep their eyes glued to their smartphones – rather than their surroundings – unintentional injuries may force them to bypass the next PokéStop for the closest emergency center or urgent care!
Motor vehicle accidents, tripping and falling (into ditches and off cliffs), abrasions and lacerations, sprains and fractures, burglary and theft, and trespassing have all been reported on various web and social media sites. Because many of the Pokémon GO-related injuries are due to being distracted or unaware of their immediate surroundings, players should remember these important safety tips:
- Wear supportive, athletic shoes and comfortable, reflective clothing (especially if going out at nighttime).
- Stay alert and aware of the surrounding area. Obey local safety rules, such as crossing the street at corners (using traffic signals and crosswalks), looking both ways prior to crossing the street and watching for cars that are turning or backing up.
- Remain on well-lit streets and stay on the sidewalks. Never trespass on private property or cut across lawns or jump fences. Also, avoid unfamiliar neighborhoods and dark, isolated areas.
- Never drive or ride a bicycle or other hands-free board or scooter (i.e., hoverboards) while gaming.
- Never meet online “friends” alone or in a non-public area.
- Remember, there is safety in numbers. Playing with a group of friends can help prevent accidents and unnecessary injuries.
- Children under the age of 12 should never leave the home without a parent or responsible adult. For older children and adolescents who are going out without adult supervision, parents should find out the route they’ll be taking and the time they’ll be home.
Pokémon GO can be an enjoyable and motivating video game, for it provides children and adolescents the opportunity to engage in low to moderate levels of physical activity while participating in one of their favorite pastimes. Whether they’re looking for and catching wild Pokémon or battling an enemy gym, by setting limits on electronics and screen time, modeling and reinforcing safe cell phone use, and teaching “street smart” habits, parents and caregivers can ensure their children have a fun, yet safe, Pokémon GO experience!