Oh, no, Pokémon GO! Media panic and fear of mobility in news coverage of an augmented reality phenomenon

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10 Scopus citations


Media panics research is concerned with widespread social anxiety formed around a new technology or medium. This study adds to existing research by characterizing a new form of media panic around augmented reality applications, and specifically that which erupted concerning Pokémon GO, a popular augmented reality game. Based on a content analysis of items related to the game published in Israel's major print and online media in the period immediately following the game's launch, we classify the negative media coverage as a media panic and propose an explanation for its emergence. We argue that the negative reactions to the game stem specifically from the game's unique features and its mobile infrastructure, and especially its use of augmented reality that combines users’ virtual experiences and their interactions in actual physical space. We identify a third wave of mobile panic in this current phenomenon, one which takes into account the unique features of mobile technology as infrastructure for augmented reality applications. In contrast to previous incidents of media panic that focused on the harmful effects of increased technology use by young users, and their detachment from their physical environment, this wave represents an essentially opposite phenomenon, in which physical mobility itself, facilitated by the use of augmented reality, is deemed dangerous to players’ health and safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-386
Number of pages22
JournalMobile Media and Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Augmented reality
  • Pokémon GO
  • media panic
  • mobile panic
  • mobile phone


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