If you’re not careful, the effort to catch all the Pokémon for your Pokédex could leave you with a Poké-compound fracture.
That’s why the Eagle Scout who made headlines last year with a campaign against texting while driving is back with another important safety message.
William Bauman, a 17-year-old from Illinois, is imploring fellow Scouts to be safe while playing Pokémon GO, the iPhone and Android app that has taken over the country.
In Pokémon GO, you head outside to find Pokémon, which are tiny virtual creatures with names like Bulbasaur, Pikachu and Rattata. When you find one, you “catch it” using a digital Poké Ball and add it to your collection, called a Pokédex.
The good: Pokémon GO compels people to get outside.
“Kids are going outside and seeing new things and playing with friends outdoors,” William writes. “My little brother just left for Boy Scout camp, and they are talking about finding Pokémon up in the northern woods of Wisconsin at a camp called Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan.”
The bad: People are putting their safety at risk to catch more Pokémon.
“They are crashing into cars, falling off skateboards,” William writes. “Crashing their bikes and walking in to objects because they are not paying attention.”
So William wanted to do something about it, and he’s just the person for the job. For his Eagle Scout service project, William educated people on the dangers of distracted driving. His efforts led Illinois to pass a law banning the use of phones while driving.
William wrote an impassioned letter about texting while driving that I posted here on the blog. That letter got the attention of NASCAR driver Scott Lagasse Jr., who invited Bauman and his mom to be his personal guests at Daytona International Speedway last year.
William’s campaign against distracted driving continues, but this week he wanted to alert parents and Scouts about the dangers of Pokémon GO. Here’s his letter.
How to stay safe while catching Pokémon
Walking and texting is already a big problem keeping people safe. Now kids are playing Pokémon GO and really getting hurt. This game can be fun and safe, but people have to be careful — even if that means not catching a Pokémon.
Bryan, I’m asking you to let the Scouting community know that this game is out there and that there are a lot of positives to this game, but parents and Scouts must also know the dangers behind this game.
If you’re looking down at the game while on your bicycle? You’re not safe.
Crossing the street while looking down at your phone? You’re not safe.
Driving around in your car — even at a very low speed — while playing? You’re not safe.
Walking around at night without wearing bright colors? You’re not safe.
Not wearing a helmet or having lights on your bike? You’re not safe.
For more than three-and-a-half years I have been educating people on being safer on the roads, and this game is causing our youth to regress on the road-safety education they have learned.
I know this letter will cause some controversy about this game, but I am willing to stand up for what I believe. There have already been news stories about people getting hurt while playing the game, and I want no one hurt just because of a videogame.
- Never play by yourself.
- Tell your parents where you are going.
- If you’re Cub Scout age, don’t play this game without an adult.
- Remember that no Pokémon is worth risking your safety.
- Be sure to check whether the Pokéstop you’re meandering toward is on public land. Some private places may not welcome unauthorized visitors.
- Find more great tips for parents from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children here.
How to request removal of a Pokéstop from Pokémon GO
The Pokémon GO app allows players to use GPS to find Pokémon and visit actual locations. Some of these locations are on private property, including camps. To request that a location on your camp’s property be removed from the game, complete this online form.