Be careful of the distraction known as Pokémon Go

As a child did your parents express what you thought were some old fashioned views and you hoped you never got so old that you’d lose touch with what’s current? Well I think I’ve morphed into my parents!!!

You see I’ve never played the global phenomenon Pokémon Go, but I don’t think I like it after speaking to may who have. Why?

From what I understand Pokémon Go uses your smartphone’s GPS to find, capture, fight, and train virtual Pokémon creatures. The Pokémon appear on your phone’s screen as if they were in the same real-world location as yourself. It’s sort of the next level of interactive gaming that combines virtual reality with what’s going on around you. I hear it’s fun and quite addictive.

What I don’t like is playing while moving outside then makes Pokémon Go a distraction to the objects around us. And in this case distractions can be dangerous because they take our focus away from what we’re doing.

Unfortunately, we’re seeing this with the number of accidents and deaths across the world where people are distracted while playing Pokémon Go has been identified as the reason. Even 2 weeks ago a man lost control of his car in Ridgemount Drive Berwick when he crashed through a school fence and into a school building. This happened in suburban Melbourne!!!

Last Wednesday I was in the city for meetings. While wrapping up my first meeting the person mentioned how they had to race off to their next meeting 10 minutes up the road. Nothing unusual there as a lot of people I see have a busy meeting schedule. They then expressed how they hoped to capture more Pokémon during the walk through the city.

The look on my face must have said it all because the person then quickly proceeded to justify Pokémon Go by explaining that it provides a mental break from work and that a “number of us play it at quiet times throughout the day.” So not only is this dangerous but it’s also got to be having a negative impact on productivity.

I’ve got to be honest I’m not a fan of distractions or trying to do multiple things at the same time because I believe they slow us down. My kids watch TV while either playing a game on the iPad, texting on their phone and also trying to maintain a conversation. I think to myself why would you want to tax your brain so hard and what does it do to your ability to maintain concentration? Of course they don’t want to listen to their father with his outdated views but I believe the answer to these questions will become clearer when my kids age group enter their thirty’s or forty’s.

Unrelated to Pokémon Go I have a personal reason why distractions can be dangerous. It happened to my youngest son when he was 5 years old. He was at crèche playing chase as children do. While running he looked behind to see how close the chaser was and just as he looked forward again he ran smack bang into a steel pole supporting the veranda. He’s now got a permanent 2cm scar down the middle of his forehead as a reminder of the incident.

Part of my productivity consulting includes helping white collar workers reduce distractions. Usually this isn’t for safety reasons. Instead it’s to help people get more done. In the workplace I see Pokémon Go as just another new distraction. As such, it needs to be managed accordingly. Outside of the workplace be careful you don’t become another statistic of incidents involving Pokémon Go.