Pokémon Go: NSPCC warns latest smartphone game could be dangerous for children

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  • Is it just us, or does it feel like we’ve just about managed to get our heads around the kids’ latest craze, and another new one pops up?

    A new smartphone game, tipped to be the craze of the summer, is quickly gaining popularity, and it’s none other than Pokémon (yes, the same Pokémon we were all going nuts for in the 90s!).

    However, the new game, Pokémon Go, has prompted children’s charity NSPCC to issue a warning to parents about the potentially dangerous threat the game poses, after reports of players being attacked, robbed and hospitalised have emerged from the countries the game has already been released in.

    What is Pokémon Go?

    The virtual reality smartphone game, created by the people behind Google Maps, uses GPS so players can ‘explore’ real sites through their phone cameras and ‘catch’ Pokémon creatures that are superimposed on their real surroundings.

    Players can walk around the real world, catch virtual monsters (like Pikachu and Jigglypuff) in places near their phone location, and then train them to fight each other.

    The game is available on the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android). It’s free, but as with some other games, there are things you can buy with real money once you’re playing.

    Pokémon first became popular in the 1990s, when it started on the Nintendo Game Boy

    It’s already reached cult status in America, New Zealand and Australia, and is set to follow suit when it’s released in the UK soon.

    How could it be dangerous for my child?

    A spokesperson for the NSPCC has told The Daily Telegraph there’s a worry that Pokémon Go’s location technology could endanger children by making them ‘easily accessible to criminals’.

    Because players can send a ‘beacon’ to other users in the game, the charity fears this feature could be hijacked by those who pose a threat to children.

    ‘Given its massive popularity with children it’s worrying that this game appears susceptible to being hijacked by those who may wish to harm them’, a spokesperson said.

    ‘When creating these games companies must consider the potential risks to young users and do everything they can to make sure their app doesn’t put them in danger.’

    The warning comes after the game was used by armed robbers in Missouri, US, to lure 11 teens to a secluded area using the game’s location technology. Players have also admitted to injuring themselves while trying to catch Pokémon.

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