Pokemon Go Might Not Be Safe Enough, According To A UK Charity

Pokemon Go
(Image credit: Nintendo)

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, a U.K., organization that usually shortens its name to NSPCC, has issued some statements regarding the safety of Pokemon Go. They feel as if Niantic needs to do more to secure the game from having kids access unsafe places.

Engadget is reporting that the NSPCC feels as if Pokemon Go leads kids toward far too many unsafe places and locations, such as sex shops and the Hell's Angels biker club. Peter Wanless, the chief executive for the NSPCC, commented about Niantic needing to up the safety measures, stating...

Given Pokémon's already massive popularity with children, the NSPCC is concerned that basic safety standards appear to have been overlooked. I urge you to urgently reassess your app and its security and safety features. We all have a responsibility to ensure that children are protected and as creators of a game with substantive reach, you have a weighty responsibility to protect your young users.

They believe that certain locations need to be prohibited from being added to Pokemon Go or to add a safety measure that makes it child-friendly, removing adult locations from the app.

The article points to several incidents that have occurred that tangentially involved Pokemon Go, such as the recent robberies, where four men in a BMW scouted around town and waited for youngsters to enter areas searching for Pokemon before robbing them at gunpoint.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Realistically, I have no idea how Niantic could do anything to prevent people from taking advantage of an app and committing crimes that have existed long before video games and BMWs have been around.

The NSPCC wants security and reporting functions, notes the article. They want it where parents or concerned adults can report a location and Niantic could review the report and possibly remove that location from the game or tag it as "dangerous" or "hazardous". These locations would then be added to a kid-friendly mode in Pokemon Go so parents wouldn't have to worry about their kids venturing to those locations.

Wanless goes on to state...

All too often we see examples of companies simply not doing enough to protect children -- their safety is an afterthought, [...] This cannot go on -- children live in a digital age, it is a standard feature of their lives. Therefore, their welfare must be a standard consideration when developing products that companies know children will use.

Part of Wanless' concerns seem to be accumulated from some of the sensationalized media reports going around considering that Pokemon Go isn't even available as an official app in the United Kingdom yet. Anyone playing the game over there is doing so without official support and have acquired it through third-party means. So technically Wanless has no idea how the officially supported app tags and arranges content in the U.K.

It would be inane for Niantic to start taking in criticisms about locations appearing in an app where they have yet to officially release the app in that region.

Additionally, some users are reporting that you don't actually have to go into each of the shops to gain items or Pokemon from those shops. So it's not like kids actually have to go into every strip bar in town to get whatever items might be located near them. However, it will be interesting to see if Niantic takes these suggestions to heart and add an adult mode that allows people access to every location in Pokemon Go, or a kid mode that restricts every location that isn't approved by their parents.

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.