In the short moments after the release of the app Pokemon Go, the baby boomer generation felt a sense of hope. Modern technology has brought today’s children outdoors and into the sunlight. The days of hibernating in dark rooms with nothing but a bright screen and a video game controller are over. “Alas,” they shouted, “kids will now know what trees are!” These old fellas were right. The Pokemon go app did, in fact, reintroduce children to outdoor play, but like a plot of a dramatic movie, the one thing they wished for, lead to complete chaos.
Pokemon Go is a free application based on the hit cartoon show, Pokemon. It integrates an augmented reality onto a smartphone to allow users to feel like they are capturing Pokemon characters in real life. The app uses the same technology as Google Maps. To catch these characters, a person has to go outside and scan the surroundings with their phones to see if one of them is hiding in their area. The app also informs users if there are any Pokemon characters nearby. So yes, kids are outdoors, running around and hunting their favorite characters. The whole idea looked great… in theory. The problem of kids staying indoors was finally solved with this app, but an even bigger issue arose from it. In order to play, users need to be looking at their screens at all times. Necks bent and all, Pokemon Goers are highly focused on the application, leaving little to no room for attention to anything outside the screen borders.
The neglect to surroundings serves as a recipe for chaos. Researchers from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management conducted a study evaluating the influence of Pokemon Go in the five months following its release; they titled it –
“Death by Pokemon!”
They reported a “disproportionate increase in vehicular crashes and associated vehicular damage, personal injuries, and fatalities in the vicinity of locations, called PokeStops, where users can play the game while driving.” The researchers also found that a total of 145,632 crashes and 29,370 personal injuries resulted from Pokemon Go usage. Car accidents increased by 47% in the Tippecanoe County in Indiana alone. The most tragic consequences of Pokemon Go include two fatalities that are directly correlated with the application.The researchers added, “On an even sadder note, our analyses indicate that the county would have experienced two fewer traffic fatalities had Pokémon GO not been introduced.” Having all the data at hand makes it very clear that the augmented reality Pokemon Go created was nonetheless unsynced to actual reality. It was nice to see people playing outdoors for a change, but the price that was paid in consequence to the game’s release is nowhere near worth it.