Last month, Pokémon GO hit the UK and the country went mad for it. Everyone – from children, to teenagers, to fully-fledged adults – began living out their childhood dream of being a real-life Pokémon master.
In case you’re not aware, Pokémon GO is an app that works with your phone’s GPS and camera to make Pokémon appear on your phone screen. Just like in the original games, users can catch and evolve Pokémon, defeat gym leaders, and become the very best (like no one ever was). The augmented reality app has become a worldwide phenomenon, and Pokémon has re-risen to popularity.
The rise of Pokémon GO has undoubtedly filled many people’s lives with joy – but the game has also impacted people’s lives in another, perhaps more important, way. Indeed, due to the nature of the game (namely that users must walk around and explore the outside environment to find new Pokémon), Pokémon GO has managed to do overnight what governments across the world have failed to do for decades: it’s made people active.
For years now, healthcare experts have been warning us of the dangers of living a sedentary lifestyle, and the rise of childhood obesity. And yet, schools, doctors, and parents alike have all struggled to get people moving. Now, with Pokémon GO, children are begging their parents to let them go outside and hunt for Pokémon, and communities across the world have been organising ‘Pokéwalks’ for users of all ages.
This inadvertent benefit of Pokémon GO has not gone unnoticed. As people began to realise and celebrate the health benefits of playing Pokémon Go, app developers scrambled to develop accompanying fitness trackers – like PokéFit. PokéFit monitors your use of Pokémon GO, and tracks how long you use the app, how far you travel while playing it, and how many calories you burn.
The game is also doing wonders for people’s mental health. Within days of the app being launched, users flocked to Twitter to marvel at the mental benefits of the game. Users with anxiety and depression, for example, spoke about how the app made them want to leave the house and alleviated their symptoms – which is unsurprising given the well-documented link between exercise and mental health.
The National Autistic Society has also spoken about how Pokémon GO has helped people with autism, stating that the game has helped autistic adults and children alike leave the house and socialise better with their peers.
Whilst there have been a handful of articles popping up around the health risks associated with playing Pokémon GO (which amount to no more than the usual risks associated with going outside), it seems that Pokémon GO is not only a fun way to spend a few hours, but it’s also doing wonders for the world’s general health and wellbeing.