Yes or No to Pokémon GO?

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Kristen Flowers

By Kristen Flowers

Glued to their phones, the people of Sacramento have started to wander aimlessly through parks, past houses and outside businesses. What are they doing? Are they planning something nefarious? Have the dead risen and signed cell contracts?

No. They’re collecting Pokémon.

Pokémon GO has officially taken over, having more active users than Twitter, Tinder and Snapchat. Unlike those other apps, data has shown that 60% of people who have downloaded the game are using it daily. Pictures of Poké-catches are popping up in parks, restaurants and even hospitals.

So what is Pokémon GO?

Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic. With Pokémon GO, you collect Pokémon in the real world using your smartphone’s GPS and camera, declare a team, and take over gyms. If you are a true Poké-fan you will collect as many as possible in the hopes of evolving them into bigger, badder versions of themselves.

Here is the real question. Should you jump on the Poké-bandwagon? Here are the pros and cons.

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PRO: It has Surprising Health Benefits

Although it hasn’t been proven yet, users are expressing a rise in mental and physical benefits. The game is forcing people outside, where they interact with others. A 2015 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that people who walked around in nature for 90 minutes showed a reduction in negative thinking.

An example of this is my husband. Rarely would he come with me when I went on my daily walk. Now, not only does he ask me to go with him but we are making friends along our walking path. We have walked more in the last few days then we have all last month. So who cares if I have to stop every once in awhile for him to grab a Pikachu? We are outside, enjoying the day, getting exercise and that’s all that matters.  

CON: Players Need to be Careful

Poké-players are becoming targets. Most people playing the game are distracted making them prime suspects for robbery or assaults. Players need to be aware of their surroundings and stick to the buddy system.

Do not play the game while driving! Police are urging motorists to not play while behind the wheel, saying they will be cited if seen. Don’t be that person who gets into a fender-bender because you were trying to catch a 600 CP Snorlax.image3

PRO: There is no Age Limit

On Instagram, John Mayer just showed off the $100 he spent on the game for Poké-coins. Adults and kids alike are able to play the game because of it’s easy premise. You do not need any special skills, training or even equipment. All players with a smartphone are on an equal playing field. Parents, it’s perfectly acceptable for your child to play. In fact, it might be a wonderful thing to do together as a family!

CON: Data Collection

The developers are collecting data – perhaps all of it – so check your privacy settings. From Buzzfeed:

“According to the Pokémon Go privacy policy, Niantic may collect — among other things — your email address, IP address, the web page you were using before logging into Pokémon Go, your username, and your location. And if you use your Google account for sign-in and use an iOS device, unless you specifically revoke it, Niantic has access to your entire Google account.”

PRO: Get to know your City

Many of the Poke-stops in Sacramento are beautiful public murals, historical buildings, monuments, public parks and other hidden gems you may otherwise miss wandering around town. Local business are even taking advantage of this by offering incentives to Pokémon GO players.

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