Pokémon GO: An Actual Health Danger

There were 321 stories on accidents related to the game.There were 321 stories on accidents related to the game.

People have been staring at their phones and walking into things for a number of years now, but there’s a new kind of phone hazard in town: Pokémon GO. And the behavior associated with it looks different from regular walking-and-phoning.

It is dangerous. Most people have probably heard of or even witnessed incidents or accidents resulting from the game. But a new study in JAMA, the American international peer-reviewed medical journal, finds that the game was apparently responsible for over 100,000 incidents in a 10-day period in summer.

The team of researchers, from San Diego State University, the University of California–San Diego School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Southern California and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, used Twitter to figure out how many accidents were linked to Pokémon GO over a 10-day period in July 2016.

They searched 4,000 random tweets, and found that a third of the tweets made reference to a passenger, driver or pedestrian getting distracted by the game. This correlates to nearly 114,000 incidents over the 10 days, Forbes reported. There were 321 stories on accidents related to the game including 14 car crashes.

These incidents are obviously not just silly side effects of game obsession; they can actually be pretty dangerous, and sometimes fatal. In fact, in the same month in which the study took place, two men were reported to have fallen off a cliff in Encinitas, CA, despite warning signs and a fence.

There are even more serious safety issues in other parts of the world. In Bosnia, a demining organization issued a warning after they heard of Pokémon GO players venturing into territory where unexploded landmines are thought to lie.

The researchers suggest that it might be time to beef up measures, from public health messages to legislature.