Police Educate Kids on Playing ‘Pokemon Go’ Safely

It's supposed to be a virtual game, but the popular Pokemon Go app has caused some real-life concerns for police around Massachusetts.

In Canton, for example, officers removed three teenagers from the middle of a roadway after the game led them there Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Gloucester Police hosted a safety walk to educate kids about the dangers of the game.

"Sooner or later, someone is going to find a way to turn something good and use it for bad," said Gloucester Police Lt. Michael Gossom.

Features of the game highlight certain locations within a city, so players end up visiting the same spots together. Police fear that someone could take advantage of that in the future.

"It's scary, isn't it?" said Willy Shih, a professor at Harvard Business School.

With a background in cyber technology, Shih said his worry about the game expands further than just street crime or accidents. Once you sign up and login into the app, the creators of the app can then begin collecting a significant amount of data about you.

"Not only will they track how you play, they can actually see how you respond to stimuli," he explained.

For example, if you choose to pursue one Pokemon over another, Shih said it could suggest something about the places you like to visit, the things that capture your attention.

"That's an advertiser's dream, right?" Shih said, "It’s like 'Gee, if I ring this bell, these people are going to come over here and buy all this stuff from me."

While the concept of tracking consumer moves is nothing new, Shih said game users should be aware of it, especially given the growing popularity.

"Did you read their privacy agreement?" he asked. “No one ever does.”

Contact Us