Pokémon GO…Safely

Pokémon Go is sweeping the nation at speeds I never imagined. However, I have already seen and heard that people, while trying to “catch them all” have done some pretty stupid things. I am sure that all the Darwin Awards given this year will be to GO players that obsessed with looking at their screen instead of being aware of their safety. If you are going to GO; GO safely. Remember, video games are great, but being safe is IMPORTANT.

1)Keep your head UP. First and foremost, keep your head up. You cannot be aware of even the simplest dangers, like walking into something, if your head is always fixed on your phone. Moreover, keeping your head down on your phone makes you far more prone to being attacked because you can be surprised. No matter whether you are texting or playing GO, when you are walking around in public, keep your head up and your attention on your surroundings. It will keep you from being a victim not only of others, but your own stupidity.

2) Don’t GO and Drive. If texting and driving is bad, GOing and driving has to be the combination of driving drunk while texting. Never GO and drive. If you are a passenger, don’t suddenly exclaim that there is some Pokémon nearby (just that sudden exclaim can cause an accident) and don’t ask the driver to stop, slow down or otherwise drive recklessly or dangerously. I don’t care if the rarest Pokémon in the world shows up on I-75, don’t slow down and for heaven’s sake don’t stop. It is a video game. It isn’t worth your life or the lives of others.

3) SAFETY FIRST. If you are on foot, NEVER try to get the Pokémon that is in a roadway of any kind. If you can’t get it from the sidewalk, leave it be. It that Pokémon is in midair just out of reach, don’t lean over a railing to try and get it. Gravity is real. This game is not. If that Pokémon is in any place that presents you any danger whatsoever, let it go. You will find it later.

4) Respect Private Property. Going into someone’s back yard at 1:00 a.m. is asking to be shot, arrested, or bitten by a very protective dog. SERIOUSLY! People get real grumpy at their best, violent at their worst, when they have people creeping around their house at inappropriate times or inappropriate places. GO doesn’t give you a license to be creepy. Building sites, private homes, government properties and the like are not places to GO. GO is not a license to trespass. Be respectful of other people’s property.

5) Be CAREFUL when you go to the Pokestops, Lures and Gyms. There are many business and well-meaning people setting them up everywhere in an attempt to get people to visit their shop or business. That is fine. HOWEVER, criminals have already gotten on the bandwagon. There have been reports of criminals setting up Pokestops, Lures and Gyms and robbing people that show up at them. No virtual reality treasure is worth your life or your real property. Be aware and look before you leap. If something doesn’t look right or doesn’t feel right, it isn’t worth it. Keep your head up and be smart. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t.

6) Put on your Head Gear. Seriously, if there is a Pokémon on my floor during class and you have to get on the mats to get it, put your headgear on. I won’t REALLY hurt you. I won’t even stop you. But I will make it an adventure worth remembering, I promise.

7) BE POLITE and RESPECTFUL in public places. Parents, I can already hear the complaints of the servers and any fellow patrons of a restaurant if you allow you kids to run around and find Pokémon in dining establishments. We far too often let kids ignore common manners and be part of the dining experience by letting them play on their devices at restaurants because it is easier than making them behave. But if you let them run around and play GO, don’t be surprised if you are asked to leave. Oh, and don’t be upset if they ask you to do so. That isn’t a “them” problem. As a parent, that is a “you” problem.

8) Never play GO in a learning environment. School, Church, Lessons, Homework, etc. If it is learning time, take their device. GO will be highly addictive. It is meant to be. If you want your child, or even yourself, to learn something, you have to have the discipline to put the device away to really learn something. If they have the device in their hands and are thinking about what the device says, can they focus on the lesson of the here and now? Of course not!

9) GO is a Pedophiles Christmas Gift. Seriously! This game will create places where people of different ages will gather playing and enjoying the same activity; something very unique in this day and age. Many of the younger participants are not the type to be out and about to begin with because they enjoy gaming activities that are usually done at home. GO will get people out of the house, which is a good thing. But at the same time, many of the younger participants are insecure, have low self-esteem and introverted by nature. Gather them together and what do you get? I think the military term is a “target rich environment.”

Pedophiles, by their very nature, will do activities that kids enjoy to be around them. Strike up a conversation with them. Develop “friendships” with them. In others words, groom them to be their next victims. I cannot image how joyous pedophiles are right now. Now they have an excuse to be in the same area with younger teens and kids that is considered “socially acceptable.” Meanwhile, the kids and teens are so consumed in what they are doing, they are unaware of potential dangers. Pedophiles are sure to set “lures” and to create “gyms” where the kids will come flocking. Once the game is updated to allow people to trade their catches, watch out. Even the convicted sex offenders that are banned from being around children’s gathering places like schools, playgrounds, and churches are not prohibited from being around these hot spots.

Yes, I know the VAST majority of the players will be well intentioned. But you always have to watch out for those that don’t mean well. Imagine a Croc in the watering hole in those nature documentaries. Lurking. Waiting. That is what pedophiles are doing right now. They are waiting for that young bull or gazelle separate from the heard to take a sip of the water as they swim gently, subtly closer to their prey. They are ready to lurch from those dark waters and take them below. The minute that you bull or gazelle is close enough, they will strike. Don’t be that young bull or gazelle. Be the lion.

Video games are awesome. I play them all the time. In fact, most martial arts instructors are total geeks and gamers. But even when you do something like gaming, you have to be careful and make sure you protect yourself in the REAL world and show disciplined enough to make a game enhance you entertainment experience and not take over your live. More than any game in history, this game has the potential of making people forget that delicate balance because it is so mobile, just like we are. So keep it in check. Never let it rule your, or your child’s, life.

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