Wednesday 20 September 2017

Pokemon Go 'could lead children to homes of sex offenders'

Pokemon Go led to a sharp spike in the Nintendo share price
Pokemon Go led to a sharp spike in the Nintendo share price
The Pokemon Go app launch screen

Meadhbh McGrath

Pokemon Go has captivated millions of players of all ages worldwide, quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon.

While many have praised the game for getting kids out and about as they catch their Pokemon, two American senators have expressed concerns that it may be leading children to unsafe areas, including the homes of sex offenders.

The augmented-reality game operates via an app as players must walk around outside to collect virtual characters on their city streets and parks.

Senators Jeffrey D Klein and Diane J Savino conducted an informal investigation that compared the addresses of 100 registered sex offenders across New York City and the locations featured in the game.

The New York Times reports that in 59 cases, the locations came within half a block of offenders’ homes, and that their staff members found 57 Pokemon in a two-week period nearby the homes.

Similar results have been reported in other states, such as California and North Carolina.

The Pokemon Go app launch screen
The Pokemon Go app launch screen

The results was released on Friday, and the senators have proposed the drafting of new legislation which would prohibit sex offenders from playing augmented-reality games like Pokemon Go, and would also require creators of such games to cross-reference any locations featured in the game with the addresses of known offenders.

“When we open the door to technology, in many cases it’s very, very good, but we always have to be very, very concerned about the potential downside,” Mr Klein said.

“And I think this is certainly a very dangerous potential downside.”

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