Pokemon Go: gotta catch the benefits
It’s been two weeks since the Pokémon Go app took the world by storm and the craze hasn’t shown any signs of relenting.
While the app itself will surely be one of the most downloaded across the globe, Pokémon is far from a new idea. For over twenty years players have traded cards, tokens and battle stories worldwide but it’s the app, an augmented reality game, which has people talking.
The app encourages it’s users to explore the real world catching virtual Pokémon on their smartphone.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea though. There’s been a number of complaints about anti-social behaviour (one Perth resident even called the police) and there have been a lot of warnings to players about the dangers of addiction and playing while driving. It’s clear that many don’t understand the fascination of catching Pikachu or Jigglypuff but for the 15 million people that have downloaded the app, they’ve ‘gotta catch ‘em all’.
While enjoyment is the core objective for players worldwide there are surprising benefits for their mental health including physical and social activity. Don’t take our word for it though, players are sharing the benefits on Twitter.
#PokemonGO has changed me so much for the better in only a week. Dealing with BPD, depression & anxiety it has helped me get out of the house— Lara (@38Violetqueen) July 11, 2016
Real talk - as someone with anxiety/depression, the fact that I've spent most of this weekend outside with friends is unreal. #PokemonGo— HiRez David (@uglycatlady) July 10, 2016
Experts have also shared praise regarding Pokemon go, confirming the benefits for all.
"There are definite mental health benefits to playing games," says Dr Greg Wadley, University of Melbourne lecturer who specialises in technology for mental health and wellbeing.
"That way of taking a break and letting the mind think about something different is better than smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol which is what lot of people do to de-stress."
More so, augmented reality games like Pokemon Go encourage people to get outside and socialise.
"If you're outside the state library and 10 other people are all catching Pokemon, you've got something to talk about. If you're just sitting there you're probably not going to go up and talk to someone."
This isn’t a lone opinion either. Psychologist John M. Grohol shares the benefits for people experiencing depression and anxiety on PsychCentral
“For a person suffering from depression or another mood disorder, the idea of exercise can be nearly impossible to contemplate, much less do. For someone suffering from social anxiety, the idea of going outside and possibly bumping into others that may want to talk to you is daunting."
While the long term success of Pokemon Go is yet to be seen, we’re excited by the opportunities new technologies create to support people’s mental health.