Pokemon Go app already causing safety concerns

By Ryne Turke on July 16, 2016 at 9:39am

A popular new smartphone app is catching the attention of local law enforcement.

Pokemon Go, a location-based augmented reality game, became an instant success after its release last week.

The Huffington Post reports the average user spends more than 43 minutes a day on the app, more than double the rate of popular social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram.

Lt. Chris Johnson with the Jacksonville Police Department says Pokemon Go has already invaded the city.

“We have not had any official calls, however just last night, some of the midnight officers observed several people walking around staring at their phones. One incident took place on the plaza and the other one was at a local department store in which the officer was walking through as part of his assignment heard people yelling, ‘Oh I just got one,’ so we believe that was the Pokemon app that they were playing,” says Johnson.

Dylan Frazier of Jacksonville is a big fan of the Pokemon Go app.

“I think it is a really good app, because it gets people who aren’t so fit and into Pokemon out walking. It is a really good way to meet people, I’ve met multiple people in the last few days. I started a Facebook page for people to join and I’ve heard a lot of new people got friends off that. It is a good way to be active and out in the community,” says Fraizer.

Pokemon “gyms”, where users can participate in “virtual battles” with other Pokemon trainers, can be found on the Downtown Square and the Illinois Theatre. Frazier says local memorials feature “Pokestops”, which provide free pokeballs and other items.

Johnson is happy the public is enjoying the app, but highlights some safety concerns for users to remember.

“The main safety concern with anything with cell phones this day and age is people not paying attention to where they’re walking. From what I’ve been reading on the internet, is there’s been other incidents across the nation where people are stepping in holes, they’re tripping over things, walking out into traffic, as we’ve mentioned. Those things have not happened here as of yet, but if anything follows a national trend like this has been, then it’s something that probably will happen,” Johnson says.

Johnson reminds Illinois drivers that using the app while behind the wheel is illegal. He adds some security features on the app make personal information more available online. Also, don’t trespass onto private property without asking for permission.

As of Monday morning, Nintendo’s net value was listed at $28-billion. Google Finance reports the value of the company’s shares increased by about 25-percent from the start of the day.