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Pokemon Go

Get your Pokemon out of our schools, say Hong Kong teachers

Education bosses to speak to game’s developer about concerns over student safety

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 July, 2016, 8:24pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 July, 2016, 10:54pm

Schools bosses said on Friday they would ask the makers of Pokemon Go not to put any of the game’s virtual creatures inside campuses and in nearby areas to avoid affecting pupils’ education.

That followed an appeal from the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers to protect children from the dangers of playing the game around school.

Since it was released on Monday, the augmented reality smartphone game has taken the city by storm. Players use their phones’ GPS and camera to hunt for virtual Pokemon – short for Pocket Monsters – at different locations in the real world.

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On Friday afternoon the Post found Pokemon inside two schools in Tsuen Wan and five outside a primary school in Sha Tin, using the website Pokevision, which displays real-time Pokemon locations using data intercepted from the game’s servers.

“Don’t put Pokemon inside schools,” urged Eddie Ting Kong-ho, a director at the federation and a district councillor. The federation said the presence of Pokemon could threaten students, if the Pokemon-hunting public were to go inside the school, or if students stayed on campus after class to play the game.

Both Ting and Principal Ken Wong Kam-leung, of Wong Cho Bau Primary School in Tung Chung, said principals from a school in Tsuen Wan and another in Sha Tin had complained of Pokemon on campus.

“Parents have complained to me about their 11 year old staying out at a park until one in the morning to hunt Pokemon,” said Ting, though he admitted it would be impossible for parents to ban their children from the game.

The Education Bureau, in response to the concerns, asked teachers and parents to discuss with students how to avoid online game addiction. It said it would inform Niantic, the game’s developers, of the teachers’ request.

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And Stephen Wong Ka-yi, Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, a government watchdog, raised different concerns. “I’m worried because the game is very new, and [requires] a camera and location information,” Wong said on an RTHK programme.

He warned that although mobile apps have become a part of life, the public needed to protect themselves by reading through a game’s terms and conditions on the collection and usage of data.

Niantic did not reply to requests for comment.