Playing in virtual world can lead to real dangers

Monday, August 1, 2016

Pokémon Go players tend to be younger and perhaps less wise in the ways of the world, so it's not surprising that there is no shortage of criminals willing to take advantage of them.

We saw a recent YouTube video of how easy it was for one man to lure two teenage girls into his car under the guise of capturing a popular character.

Luckily, he was only making a video on the dangers and not actually abducting the girls.

But others have not been so lucky.

A pair of New York lawmakers sent staffers to more than 100 homes of level-2 and -3 sex offenders who committed crimes against children or were convicted of possessing child pornography.

Sure enough, characters randomly generated by the Pokémon app appeared 57 percent of the time.

In the case of PokéStops and Pokémon gyms -- ask a player what those are -- the figure rose to 73 percent.

Businesses already use such techniques to bring in shoppers, but predators can use the same methods.

But child abuse isn't the only danger the wildly popular augmented reality app can create.

The game creates all sort of legal questions, such as trespassing. Yes, the player is responsible for their actions, but what about the maker of the app?

Attorneys say the maker might be found liable if they can be convicted of reckless or intentional conduct.

More and more reports of injuries and deaths are piling up, including two men who fell off a cliff while playing the game in California.

Yes it's good that a popular electronic game actually gets players out in the fresh air and sunshine.

But the will do well to stay aware of their surroundings and remember real-world dangers while they're pursuing virtual characters.

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