In the weeks since its launch, the Pokémon Go app continues to take college campuses by storm, for better and for worse.
The augmented reality game has grown incredibly popular on campuses, with students venturing out to collect as many "pocket monsters" as possible. Many colleges are pleased to see students exploring campus, getting exercise, and interacting with one another. Some institutions are even encouraging students to take advantage of all the opportunities to hunt for Pokémon on campus with special events and activities. Some schools like American University have created maps highlighting important landmarks for players. Saint Leo University offered prospective students a tour of campus, complete with 17 "PokéStops" where players can load up on virtual supplies.
Pokémon take over college campuses
While Pokémon Go has been a fun break from reality for college students, the game doesn't come without its risks. Administrators have been warning students about the dangers of collecting Pokémon in light of several incidents. Some students have been so engrossed in the game that they have suffered from health issues or found themselves in hazardous situations.
Two weeks ago, three students at the University of Maryland, College Park had their phones stolen while playing Pokémon Go. One Texas A&M University student playing the game injured himself after becoming dehydrated and having a seizure.
Also at Texas A&M, a person driving while playing the game parked in a bike lane to catch a Pokémon. Another motorist playing the game crashed into the parked car. Both drivers received citations.
Meanwhile, an alumnus of the University of Oklahoma got stuck inside the school's football stadium while hunting for a Pokémon before being freed by a school employee.
Student safety and crime prevention programs within student affairs
Besides safety concerns, some universities have also advised students to be more conscientious about hunting Pokémon near hallowed places. The College of the Ozarks, home to the Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial, has asked the public to stop playing the game on campus so that visitors may "have a moment of quiet reflection in those spaces to honor the fallen and show respect to those veterans who have served our country," says spokesperson Valorie Coleman. Students are permitted to play Pokémon Go in their dorms and common areas (Svrluga, "Grade Point," Washington Post, 7/21; Sandoval, Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/22; Riley, Springfield News-Leader, 7/19).
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