The past few weeks, you’ve likely seen a lot of this – people walking around with their noses buried in their phones. It’s the latest app craze, Pokémon GO, and it’s got would-be Pokémon Masters out getting healthy both physically and mentally.
The game encourages players to get out and explore. Not only to find Pokémon but to collect items and hatch Pokémon eggs, which can require up to 6 miles to be hatched.
Sally Knauss is a McCracken County bus driver and says she’s put plenty of miles on her shoes in the weeks since the game’s debut.
“I’ve walked over 20 miles. I know I’ve lost a little bit of inches in my thighs, so…I’m happy. Maybe I’ll lose some weight.”
Pokémon GO clearly isn’t a game limited to one generation. Parents bond with their kids over catching the little creatures – for example, Sally plays with her 25-year-old son. And, spouses are spending quality time together.
“It encourages them to get out and about instead of sitting around, watching TV,” says Micah Thompson, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Four Rivers Behavioral Health. He believes that Pokémon GO is an extension of family game night.
“Yeah, we had board games before. We played Monopoly, Connect 4, all the great board games we had. Things have evolved over time, this is just kind of a new variation. Like modern day.”
And that’s not all. The app is even helping to tackle mental disorders. Doctor John Grohol, a psychologist who specializes in technological trends and their effects on mental health, believes that apps like Pokémon GO can help fight depression and anxiety.
In an interview with technology news site Engadget, he says: “It actually works as an anti-depressant and it has a really, pretty strong effect. It’s probably one of the most beneficial things a person with depression can do.”
It’s not just the players benefiting from Pokémon GO. Apps like Charity Miles are partnering up (unofficially), encouraging you to use it while becoming a Pokémon Master. Charity Miles donates money to a charity of your choice for every mile you walk.
“I just downloaded an app and I go walk around,” says Pokémon GO player Anden Quarles, “and the more I walk, the more money it donates to a charity of my choice.”
Love it or hate it, Pokémon GO is here to stay.
And if you ask any Pokémon Master in training: that’s a good thing.
100 Television Lane
Paducah, KY 42003