Here’s the last thing I expected to hear about a popular smart phone game based on Japanese anime characters: It’s lessening players’ depression and anxiety symptoms.
But that’s what users are reporting, and it actually makes sense. Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game–meaning it takes the real world around you and supplements it with virtual content. As you look at a real-life scene through the camera of your smart phone, characters appear. Your job is to catch them. Millions of people are heading outside for hours at a time to go on Pokemon hunts.
The game gets people moving around in nature, and that’s a dynamite combination for mental health. When you’re depressed or anxious, finding the motivation to head outside and exercise and engage socially can be extra difficult, but with the game’s competition and rewards, people are doing it. It’s enough that hundreds have been commenting on social media about feeling better.
It’s the opposite effect from traditional video games, and I’m happy to see it.
Click here to read what people are saying about Pokemon Go and mental health!
Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.