10 'Pokemon Go' Real World Dangers to Avoid

Pokémon Go is an addictive game app that can be a great way to encourage you to get out and walk or bike. In fact, you have to walk a mile or more to hatch eggs into monsters in the game.

However, there are some inherent dangers of distracted walking and cycling. Stories of players getting injured, stumbling into trouble, or having the police called to investigate suspicious behavior have circulated the media. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you begin your Pokémon hunt.

Be Cautious With Your Personal Information

Playing Pokemon Go
Robert Couse Baker/Flickr/CC by 2.0

When you first log into the Pokémon Go app, you have the choice of creating or using a Pokémon Trainer Club membership or using your Google account login. ​You can also link your Facebook account for login.

While Niantic (which was developed inside Google) says they only access your basic information, you may not want to give this permission.

Some players create a unique Google account to use only with Pokémon Go so their main Google account isn't accessed by the app.

Build Up Your Walking Time for Hatching Pokémon Eggs

Man Walking - Lower Legs and Shoes
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Besides roaming about hunting monsters and refueling at Pokestops, you'll have to walk a few kilometers to hatch your Pokémon eggs. If you've been mostly sedentary, you need to build up your walking time gradually to avoid muscle strain and blisters.

Start with 10 or 15 minutes and increase the time and distance over the course of days and weeks. You'll discover that ​good walking shoes can make your Pokémon hunt more efficient and comfortable.​​

Don't Be a Distracted Walker While You Play

Distracted Walking
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The Pokémon Go app encourages you to get out and walk and visit places of interest to capture virtual monsters, find PokéStops and gyms to gather items and train your creatures.

But if you are looking at your screen and not the sidewalk, you run the risk of trips, falls, bumping into people and objects, and getting hit in the street or crosswalk. One police department tweeted to Pokémon players, "Traffic isn't virtual, it's legit!"

  • Impose rules on yourself and your fellow players that screens are down when you cross streets.
  • Use the sidewalks rather than walking in the street.
  • If you need to stop, pull out of the stream of traffic on the sidewalk, so you aren't an obstruction.

Don't Trespass on Private Property

No Trespassing Sign
Wendy Bumgardner ©

The Pokémon Go terms of service say, "You also agree not to use the App to violate any applicable law, rule, or regulation (including but not limited to the laws of trespass)...you will not enter onto private property without permission."

There may be monsters, PokéStops, and gyms that are erroneously located on private property. Or they may be on public property with restricted hours.

Don't expect people to understand you are just playing a game. If you look like a threat to them, you may find yourself facing the police or a frightened homeowner, shopkeeper, or security guard.

Be on Guard at PokeStops and Gyms

PokeStop or Gym Players
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Are the others gathered at a PokeStop or gym there to battle and raid Pokémon—or have you been lured in by a potential attacker? There are reports of players being robbed in these areas.

You may want to do your gameplay only during daylight hours and accompanied by friends. Listen to your instincts. Parents should be extra aware of their children's whereabouts when they are frequenting PokeStops and gyms.

Be Respectful of People Around You

Using a Mobile Cell Phone at Night While Walking
James Whitaker/Digital Vision/Getty

The Pokémon Go terms of service say, "You will not inflict emotional distress on other people, will not humiliate other people (publicly or otherwise), will not assault or threaten other people."

If you are in a store or a park and trying to catch a rare Pokémon or join in a raid, don't toss off snide replies to store employees, other shoppers, passersby, etc. These can lead to verbal and physical confrontations.

If you are gathered at a PokeStop or gym, keep your comments civil, so you don't provoke a fight or have passersby call the police on your group.

Be Mindful of Other People in Your Photos

Playing Pokemon Go
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Pokémon Go game encourages you to take photos of Pokémon in real-life settings. But beware that people may not want to be in your photos, or have their children appear in the background.

Homeowners and business owners may feel threatened if you are taking photos of their house or store, thinking you are casing it for a burglary. Photography may not be allowed inside businesses, museums, or churches.

Practice Night Walking Safety

Close up sneakers on pavement during nighttime walk
Westend61/Getty Images

You may feel like a ninja dressing in black as you stroll the streets hunting Pokémon. But being invisible to traffic after dark is a very bad idea.

Wear light colors and reflective items or a strobe light. You don't have to sneak up on Pokémon and you will look like less of a threat when you aren't dressed like a cat burglar. If you are walking in areas without street lights, carry a flashlight or wear a headlamp.

Don't Run Out of Power or Data for Your Phone

Caucasian woman connecting cord to cell phone
JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

The Pokémon Go app uses GPS and you may have the screen on for long periods. If you've roamed far from home on the hunt, you may find your battery drained.

Now you'll have to navigate back home on your own. If you rely on GPS for directions, bring along a spare power source to keep charged. You may also find you are hitting your cell data limits as you roam and incur charges. 

Be Prepared for Weather Conditions

Walking Through Puddle in Rain
Mike Harrington/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Pokémon Go may lure you out of your house in all kinds of weather. Be prepared for the elements. Learn how to walk in the rain, how to dress for cold weather walking, and be prepared for walking in hot weather. If you're going to go out in the ice and snow, you'll want foot traction cleats.

Have fun, be safe, and go catch them all!

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  1. Miller RW. Teens used Pokémon Go app to lure robbery victims, police say. USA Today. Updated July 11, 2016.