Pokémon GO is good for communities
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the new mobile craze, Pokémon GO. The premise of the game is simple: you use your phone’s GPS to track down and collect digital Pokémon in the real world. It’s a lot like geocaching, but instead of finding a mysterious stash left behind by other people, you find cute, imaginary monsters.
Sadly, many news outlets reporting on the popularity of the game are more interested in sensationalism than positivity.
“Roving bands of teenagers are taking over neighborhood parks at all hours!”
“Thugs are luring people to remote areas and mugging them, using Pokémon GO!”
While there is a nugget of truth to the stories, Pokémon GO is nowhere near the Boogeyman some media outlets would have you believe. In fact, I’ve seen far more reports of good resulting from the app than bad. Here’s just a handful of stories and images that I dug up in less than 30 minutes of perusing Pokémon GO on Reddit.
Autistic children are socializing
This next screenshot is a conversation between my friends, Crystal and Stephanie, and is shared with permission. Explaining the context, Stephanie told me, “my daughter is autistic and refuses to leave the house, but she will for Pokémon.”
Pokémon GO cheers up children’s hospital patients
Reddit user brookmw7 says, “My local Children’s Hospital is setting off lures for patients and inviting players from all teams to come hunt Pokémon. They are also encouraging anyone who comes to post ‘get well’ messages on their Twitter and Instagram AND offering prizes for doing so. I love this so much!”
Have no fear, the “lure” she is referring to is simply an in-game item that can be activated to attract additional Pokémon to a specific location for 30 minutes; nobody at the children’s hospital is getting mugged. 😉
Veterans’ PTSD eased
Another veteran on Reddit had this to say: “I went from smoking 1/4 Oz+ of medical Marijuana a week to smoking none in a day… I used to barely enjoy leaving my house because being in crowds of people always made me nervous. Just having strangers around me made me very uncomfortable. On the second day of Pokémon GO being out I was yelling at strangers from across the street asking what team they were on and then inviting them to walk with me and my friends. This ‘game’… is the best thing since sliced bread.”
Bonds forged between communities and law enforcement
Physical and mental health benefits
Far and away, the most frequent testimonials I see are from people who say that Pokémon GO has improved their mental and physical health. People who used to partake in practically no physical activity are now finding themselves on 5-6 mile walks, every day.
I myself have experienced a huge improvement in both mental health and physical activity, thanks to Pokémon GO. My anxiety and depression have caused me some serious struggles this year. Within the first two days of playing Pokémon GO with my kids, I’d gone outside more than I had in the previous two months combined. My wife was shocked when I came home from a recent Pokémon hunt and told her about the dozen or so strangers we had chatted with during our walk. Sunshine, fresh air, exercise, and socialization used to be things I knew I needed more of, but just couldn’t quite bring myself to accomplish. One week of playing Pokémon GO has completely changed my outlook.
Will the popularity of Pokémon GO continue? Will the game continue to have the welcome impact upon my own health that it currently is? These are questions that can only be answered with time. All I know is that I, along with millions of others, am having a blast exploring the world around me with my kids, and I highly recommend everyone give Pokémon GO a chance.
And if you still don’t want to jump on the Pokémon train, that’s fine. Just try not to be this person:
To the rest of you, I’ll see you out there!