27 October 2016
As Pokémon GO craze sweeps Hong Kong, there are worries that young gamers could fall prey to accidents as they forget the outside world. Photo: HKEJ
As Pokémon GO craze sweeps Hong Kong, there are worries that young gamers could fall prey to accidents as they forget the outside world. Photo: HKEJ

Pokémon GO frenzy fuels children’s safety concerns

Hong Kong police will deploy more officers at popular spots such as parks where young people appear to be gathering at odd hours to try out the Pokémon GO game, the city’s police chief said.

Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung said Tuesday that steps will be taken in light of concerns expressed by some people that the Pokémon GO craze could lead to “accidents” among the youth.

The comments came after observers pointed to media reports that suggested that Pokémon frenzy has caused traffic accidents in countries in such as Japan and the US.

Pokémon GO, the Augmented Reality (AR) game from Nintendo that has taken the world by storm, has led to 71 traffic accidents in Japan since its release last week, according to some reports.

Elsewhere, a female student in Pennsylvania in the US was said to have been hit by a car while crossing a road with her eyes fixed on her smartphone screen as she was trying to catch a Pokemon.

The 15-year-old girl’s mother has called on fellow parents not to let their kids play the highly addictive game.

Australian authorities have also issued guidelines for parents, advising them to understand the mechanics of the game and try to accompany their children in enjoying the game and explain to them the safety risks.

Lui Wan-hap, an educational psychologist in Hong Kong, suggested that parents enter into an pact with their children to ensure that the AR game becomes a rewarding experience, rather than become a safety risk.

Parents could set two one-hour blocks for their children, Lui suggested. However, he warned that parents should avoid terminating play all of a sudden, as it would likely cause quarrels.

Parents are advised to serve reminders to take back the handsets or switching off WiFi five minutes prior to the time limit, he said, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

It is also important that children be reminded to withdraw themselves from the virtual world, as spending too much time on video games will only decrease their concentration level.

A woman surnamed Yau said she is worried about the safety of her son, 16, when he goes out to play Pokémon GO.

She says that she had been watching her son from a distance to ensure that he is safe after learning that the boy was playing the game at Victoria Park.

Yau added that she ran into two other parents at the park who were also there because they were worried about their children.

Some parents have decided to simply not allow their children to download the game. A man who has a seven-year-old son said he fears that kids would get addicted to the game.

Kids should engage in healthy exercises and activities, rather than be glued to their mobile devices, he said.

Some parents, meanwhile, are opting to play the game together with their kids.

A woman surnamed Poon told HKEJ that she has set aside time to go to Victoria Park to catch a Pokemon with her daughter, aged ten, on Tuesday.

Poon said the activity helps her bond with her daughter, while the kid gets a sense of satisfaction of being able to teach her mother play the latest mobile game.

Lam, a secondary school student going to the fifth form this September, said he cannot give up on the game as everybody else is engaged in the same activity.

However, he sought to assure his parents by saying that he will only play during the summer and that he will not be making in-app purchases.

A fellow student surnamed Mak said he will look bad if he does not jump on the bandwagon, given that his friends are posting and sharing their Pokemon captures on Facebook.

[Chinese version 中文版] 

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