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Pokemon Whoa!

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Since the Pokemon GO craze broke out a few weeks ago, groups of kids – and adults – have been seen wandering around cities and towns holding their phones out in front of themselves like magnetic compasses or divining rods. At times players look like they are on an exciting scavenger hunt, and at times they look almost zombie-like because their minds are obviously focused elsewhere.

Unlike most video games, Pokemon GO is a fairly social game, with kids and teenagers playing it in groups. And unlike almost any video game before, this one requires a lot of walking around. The more ground you cover, the more Pokemon characters you can ‘capture’. The way the game is designed, the more densely populated an area is, the more characters tend to be available.

So all of this is great, except the part about wandering around densely populated cities and neighborhoods without fully paying attention to your surroundings. We won’t even talk about the Baltimore driver who smashed into a police car while playing the game. Unfortunately, we know from our personal injury work that pedestrian accidents are real. Distracted walking can lead to injuries almost as easily as distracted driving – slip and fall injuries, and auto injuries. There are great joys available in discovering new places, but there are also obvious risks involved with letting kids wander around unknown neighborhoods.

We’d like to suggest a few things to maximize your enjoyment of Pokemon GO:
– Have an adult accompany kids when they are going to a unknown neighborhood.
– Have at least one person in the group act as a spotter, keeping an eye out for everyone.
– GO slow enough that you can look up frequently. Then you can know where you are stepping, and you can enjoy your surroundings a bit, along with the game.

Near our offices in Richmond, Reston, Leesburg, and Midlothian, we’ve seen several groupings that seemed to include kids having a blast, along with parents acting as guides (we haven’t seen any in Hopewell or Winchester, yet).

Exercise + exploration + friends + family + safety… to us that equals a recipe for a pretty fun video game.

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