Have you or your kids joined the Pokémon Go craze?
The smartphone-based game has picked up steam worldwide, bringing gamers out in droves to hunt for cartoon critters called Pokémon.
While the game is unique and commendable for requiring players to head outside, explore and be active, it has prompted some safety concerns. These simple tips can help parents ensure their children stay safe while playing Pokémon Go.
Don’t use phones or headphones while crossing streets
About half of pedestrian-related injuries in teenagers may be attributed to distracted walking – and the Pokémon trend can only compound these dangers.
Already, according to a 2014 study, among the teens who were hit by a car while walking, 47 percent were listening to music, 20 percent were talking on the phone, and 18 percent were texting.
Parents should insist that children put away their devices and headphones while walking on sidewalks or roads.
Never play while driving
In 2010, about 18 percent of all injury car accidents were attributed to distracted driving. This could mean texting, eating or drinking, talking on a cell phone, grooming, or many other activities that pull attention from the road.
Law enforcement officials say that young and inexperienced drivers are more likely to have an accident because of distracted driving. For a driver of any age, using a cell phone behind the wheel reduces brain functions needed for safe driving by up to 37 percent.
Experts recommend that all drivers turn off their phones or keep them out of reach while behind the wheel.
Be mindful of other pedestrians
Not only are cars a threat as a gamer searches for Pokémon, but other pedestrians can be as well. Be mindful of others’ space and paths of travel.
Further, be watchful for other distracted pedestrians or drivers who might be playing the game and not fully focusing on the road ahead. Make eye contact with drivers before crossing streets.
Don’t play in unsafe locations
Since Pokémon launched in recent weeks, media reports have surfaced of people falling off of cliffs or becoming victims of crimes while playing the game.
To that end, don’t search for Pokémon in locations that are dark, abandoned or otherwise unsafe. Stay in groups and be aware of surroundings.
Rotate screen time with other activities
Children should not exceed more than two hours of screen time each day. Screen time is considered watching TV, playing video games, or using the computer, tablet or smartphones.
Though Pokémon does inspire players to stay active, parents should remind their children of the countless other summertime activities that do not involve screens.