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What parents need to know about Pokemon Go

Posted July 15

The new mobile scavenger game Pokemon Go is sweeping the globe in popularity, but there are some problems -- online and off -- that parents need to be aware of. (Deseret Photo)

Mobile game Pokemon Go made a huge splash over the weekend, hooking 7.5 million user downloads in its first four days online.

Building on the popular 1990s franchise of the same name, the app-based game has users "find" pokemon characters in the real world with their phones, mostly through the phone's GPS tools in what is commonly referred to in the game world as "augmented reality." While wandering around with the app running, pokemon's 700-plus cast of characters from Squirtle to Eevee "appear" on virtual maps.

While the game is wildly popular (Nintendo gained a 25 percent jump in stock prices virtually overnight) not everyone is thrilled with Pokemon's triumphant return to pop culture.

There are reports of players finding more than pokemons during their searches — from one teen in Wyoming reportedly stumbling on a body floating in a river to players being lured into traps set by thieves (some of which have been questioned as possible hoaxes).

Police officers in Australia, whose station boasts a stop on the app, pleaded with the public via social media to not actually go inside the station to gain the coveted pokeballs.

Still others have criticized the app for encouraging players to potentially break the law or trespass on private property to "catch 'em all," as the franchise urges. In the wake of a police shooting in Dallas last week, writer Omari Akil pointed out that the game is a "death sentence if you're a black man."

"There is a statistically disproportionate chance that someone could call the police to investigate me for walking around in circles in the complex," Akil wrote on Medium. "There is a statistically disproportionate chance that I would be approached by law enforcement with fear or aggression, even when no laws have been broken."

Then there's malware masquerading as the popular app that hijacks the unfortunate user's entire phone.

Yet despite all the potential problems with the explosively trendy game, millions are being transported back to their childhoods with what they've always wanted: A chance to "catch 'em all" in the real world — as long as it's done safely — at a time when many want to escape reality.

"Pokémon Go gives you the opportunity to for once forget about all the terrible (things) happening out there, explore the beauty of the world, and catch some Pokémon along the way," Vox reported.

Email: chjohnson@deseretnews.com

Twitter: ChandraMJohnson

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