As Pokemon Craze Continues, Concerns Arise over Social Aspects and Battery Life

As the Pokemon Go craze continues unabated, stories are cropping up about people getting injured and even crashing their cars while playing. Parents, then, may well be wondering what downsides to the game they should be aware of. (Unless, of course, you’re a parent who is playing the game yourself, in which case you are probably just more fun than I am, at least when it’s not baseball season.)

As a parent, in general I like the idea of Pokemon Go simply because it gets kids outside and moving around. But this piece from CNN, titled “A parent’s guide to Pokemon Go,” raises some legitimate concerns. One is the concept of “lure modules,” as CNN writes:

You should also know that strangers with their own agendas can influence where your child goes to find Pokemon. Shopkeepers can attract customers by activating “lure modules.” These in-game items cause more Pokemon creatures to virtually appear in a specific area, and thus “lure” players hunting them to their real-life stores.

This technique could also be used for nefarious reasons. Missouri police have reported that armed robbers used Pokemon Go to draw potential victims to secluded locations.

There is a competitive side to the game as well, and the CNN article warns, “Friendly competition can get emotional.” In other words, fights may ensue if your child were to succeed in taking over a Pokemon “gym” (read: hangout) from another player, for example. The post also gets into some legitimate concerns over security and the need to be careful about what personal information you divulge.

Getting into the tech side of things, there’s a real concern over battery life. Like any app that requires a lot of back and forth with faraway servers – Waze, for example – Pokemon Go chews up a lot of smart phone battery. This CNET piece confirms as much:

Pokemon Go seems to be a huge battery hog. That’s not too surprising: Nintendo’s smash-hit mobile game fires up your phone’s GPS, graphics processor, cellular radio and camera, AND requires you to keep your screen nice and bright so you can see it outdoors…all at the same time.

CNET conducted a test to see how quickly the game burns through a phone battery and found 30 minutes of play will burn 15 percent of a phone’s battery life. As CNET writes:

At that rate, you can expect an iPhone 6S to die in under 7 hours of Pokemon Go — but that’s assuming Pokemon is the only app running on your phone! Anecdotally, one of our staffers burned through 45 percent of an iPhone 6S’s battery in 30 minutes on a different, uncontrolled run, and my personal Galaxy S7 no longer lasts a full work day if I play any Pokemon at all.

And that’s for people who have jobs. My 13-year-old seems to think her job is playing games like Pokemon Go, so she’s going to have battery issues once she strays from the house for a while.

For that we’ve got a couple of solutions. First, the game does have a built-in battery saver mode, although it’s not what I would call intuitive to use. Without this guide from CNET I never would’ve figure it out. It’s hard to picture many kids bothering to do it.

Another solution, then, is to use a mobile battery charger. It just so happens that APC by Schneider Electric makes a line of mobile power packs that offer some impressive features, not the least of which is safety – meaning, they won’t cause fires. Yes, it’s not just hover boards that can spontaneously combust. Just 2 years ago the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall for over 175,000 mobile power packs, saying, “When unit is being charged or being used to charge another device, it can overheat, causing a fire hazard.”

What they are talking about is the cheap power packs that companies give away as trinkets at trade shows and the like. But the APC models have features such as over-temperature protection, which shuts the device down if the battery temperature rises above its safe operating range. What’s more, depending on the model, they carry up to two full charges for a smartphone, which will have your young one (or, ahem, whoever) chasing Pokemon for a good, long time.

Another alternative is the battery that comes with the APC Back-UPS uninterruptible power supply. The Back-UPS is intended to power routers, modems and other low-power devices in homes and small offices during power outages. Some models also have USB ports and removable batteries that double as mobile power packs when you’re on the go.

So it’s really a two-fer: you get power backup for your Internet connection and a mobile power pack. Now there’s no reason your youngster can’t get out there and “catch ‘em all.”

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