A Few Thoughts Regarding Pokemon Go

The Pokemon Go release has sparked a lot of confusion regarding security and safety of users. Here is a quick breakdown of the common concerns about Pokemon Go.

Security Concerns

This article has ignorantly portrayed the app as having access to emails and search history.

First off: Full Access from Google does not allow that. Only user specific (you logging in) access allows the reading of emails and access to search history.

Secondly: The term “Full Access” is actually an incorrect term in proportion to the access actually granted. It means full access to what Google allows. The highest amount of access with the exception being the user. It is a little confusing but in reality it isn’t as crazy as it sounds. At the most this is an incorrect statement from Google’s perspective as it causes a public panic.

Thirdly: Niantic made the mistake of using an older version of the Google Sign-In API thus causing it to grant full access status from Google instead of the normal access needed (Basic info: name/email address).

We recently discovered that the Pokemon GO account creation process on iOS erroneously requests full access permission for the user’s Google account. However, Pokemon GO only accesses basic Google profile information (specifically, your User ID and email address) and no other Google account information is or has been accessed or collected. Once we became aware of this error, we began working on a client-side fix to request permission for only basic Google profile information, in line with the data that we actually access. Google has verified that no other information has been received or accessed by Pokémon GO or Niantic. Google will soon reduce Pokemon GO’s permission to only the basic profile data that Pokemon GO needs, and users do not need to take any actions themselves.

So no. It is not some crazy conspiracy theory against Niantic and Google to steal all of your personal information. That thought is absolutely absurd.

If you are so concerned about using the Google Sign In then use the Pokemon Trainers Club Sign In. There are no differences in gameplay or app usability either way. It is just another method to sign in.

Dangers of the Game

Any new game can have a lasting impact on the younger generation. Especially one so expansive. It should be clear to understand the dangers of the game. Here is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote just a couple days ago.

Be Aware. A 19 year old teen found a dead body while out looking for Pokemon…. Also not to mention that if you wander into traffic or get caught in a storm.. Just be aware.

Yes. Games like these can be dangerous (someone got robbed while playing). I sourced an article under security concerns that spoke about “luring players into a sex shop” (likely for a PokeStop or a Gym). Here’s the deal. The game itself isn’t luring anyone anywhere. It is a game. Simple as that. The PokeStops and Gyms are all proportional to landmarks and real world locations. It is up to the player to decide where they are going.

Another thought while we are talking about the game. Being Aware is also incredibly broad of a term. Be aware of where you are. Be aware of what is around you. Ultimately be smart. Don’t go into areas that you know you shouldn’t be in. Don’t trespass etc…

Pokemon Go and Parents

Parents: I would take a look at the game itself. The game is geared towards teenagers and young adults. I would be clear in setting ground rules for your teen such as:

  • Stay in this area
  • No using the game while driving
  • Stay away from this part of town
  • etc

Ultimately you know your teen and the area you live in. I would set rules that are geared for their age. For example. A 13 year old should only be allowed to go to the park and back…. or something like that. A 16 year old has free range but has to stay away from a certain neighborhood…

If your child is younger than 13 I would be more apt to set harsher rules about him/her playing the game. If you decided to let him or her use the app I would make sure that they have friends going out with them and that they are to check in with you and such.

Here is an article on the pros of children playing the game. They also have some good information for parents regarding the game.

I promise that I will step off my soapbox here in a few more words but please don’t be rejective of a new idea such as this. This is a great opportunity to get your teen outside and enjoying the summer even if he is looking down at his phone.

 

I hope that this was helpful! Have a great day!

 

Resources:

  • WARNING: PLAYING POKEMON GO COULD BE PLACING YOUR CHILD IN REAL LIFE DANGER – Source (Yes they used all caps and the headline is sooooo long. Horrible for SEO…Just sayin)
  • Pokemon Go has ‘full access’ to your Google Account, but that doesn’t mean it can read your email – Source (And yet another really long headline. What Gives?)
  • A Parent’s Guide to Playing Pokemon Go With Your Kids – Source (Finally, A nice and short headline. Hat’s off to lifehacker)

 

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