Unless you’ve been living in a fallout shelter (an actual one, not the game app) and cut off from all internet access for the past week, you’ve no doubt heard about or seen people playing Pokémon Go. (Appency got so into it they made an app that maps out all of the nests called PokeNet! Check it out on iOS and Android). Millions of users are now glued to their little screens trying to fulfill their dream of being a master.
Yet you’ve already seen this phenomenon before. A considerable number of smartphone users are glued to their apps for most of their waking hours, whether they’re enjoying time off or “working” at their jobs. This presents a real danger both to the users of these apps and the people around them.
A Wild Lake Appears!
Apps that require the user’s full attention and also require the user to travel are some of the most dangerous. While the most obvious reference might be the new Pokémon app, you might be surprised to know that even GPS has been shown to create potentially life threatening situations. A woman recently drove her car off a boat launch into a lake because her GPS told her she was going the right way.
It’s also no surprise that cellphones in general can be distracting; the AAA Foundation did a study and found that the number two cause for teenage vehicle accidents was related to using the phone. My personal experience has been that younger drivers are more likely to do things other than talk or text while driving.
Pokémon Go presents issues for pedestrians who are just trying to catch their latest prey. For those who haven’t tried the app, it requires you to physically visit a location and then catch a Pokémon by throwing Pokéballs at it. The whole process means looking at the screen no matter where the target is (and it can be anywhere). This can lead to some dangerous situations for those who aren’t paying attention.
If big hacks have shown us anything, it’s that services you access through apps can potentially be deadly. One man killed himself over the data breach of Ashley Madison, which was perhaps also a lesson about the dangers of “looking for someone other than my wife.” Celebrities suffered a similar humiliation over the “leak” of their nude photos in 2014.
If there’s any lesson to be taken from that, it’s that security apps shouldn’t be considered optional. People using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and security apps are much less likely to be hacked. Both help protect user accounts and private data by encrypting internet traffic and removing malicious software.
Having an account hacked can be a devastating experience, especially for young people. Embarrassing incidents on popular social media apps such as Facebook can lead to bullying, depression or worse.
Apps can do a lot of great things and be great tools for anyone. People just need to remember that improper usage can have serious ramifications. Go catch some Pokémon if you’d like, but make sure you’re not sneaking into private yards or walking out into traffic!
What do you think about the safety of apps? Tell us what you think and leave a comment below.
About the Author: Cassie is an internet security specialist and entertainment blogger. If you’d like to read more of her work, visit Culture Coverage for regular updates.
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