Northern Ireland news

Addictive but potentially dangerous new app

Pokemon Go has proved hugely popular since it was officially launched in the UK on Thursday, rising to the top of the free download charts
Gareth McKeown

It is significant that the first image you see when you log in to play Pokemon Go is an immediate warning from a dragon stating "remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings".

Without proper care this game can put you in danger, but don't just take my word for it, ask the two men in California who fell off a cliff. The pair fell over an ocean bluff while playing the addictive smartphone game, while there have been other instances in America of a girl getting run over by a car while engrossed in the app.

Yes these are worst case scenarios from the millions who have downloaded the app so far, but there is no denying the risks it brings with it.

The app uses GPS technology meaning you can virtually end up anywhere. With monsters littered across the north, liable to pop up at any time and many local landmarks 'Pokestops' it is fraught with danger.

In the quest to 'catch them all' it is very easy to lose track of your surroundings and while crossing busy Belfast roads this could be fatal as I found out. I didn't get clipped by an oncoming taxi or career into a bus, but the road in front of me did not have my full and undivided attention.

For sheer embarrassment alone no-one wants to end up in a hospital bed, because they saw Pikachu across the road or break a leg because they needed to check in at the Pokestop at the Ulster University campus.

It is a fun game though and who knows it may remain on my phone to become part of my daily routine. If you do choose to download it or have done so already just remember to heed the warning - "Be alert at all times" and "stay aware of your surroundings".

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