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Pokémon Go – The Verdict

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

It’s everywhere. It is the mobile phone app/game that quickly took over the globe. A game where people walk all over their local neighbourhood or city catching Pokémon and battling other players. The game uses the smartphone’s camera and GPS to provide you with the experience of existing in a world of Pokémon, and people love it. But there is a large debate about whether it a good for the players health.

The use of mobile phones since the invention of the Smart Phone has exponentially grown. Everywhere you go, you see people looking down at their phone. In restaurants, the movies, gyms, at work, public transport… basically anywhere you can think of. There has been a lot of discussion about how the use of mobile phones is detrimental to relationships, productivity at work, communication skills and health. The high usage of mobile phones has been linked in with other high level sedentary behaviour's such as video games, which cause increased risk factors for more serious health problems. It then spanned to a wider, more serious concern of the use of mobile phones whilst driving. This not only puts the driver, but unwilling pedestrians and other drivers at risk.

And then came Pokémon Go. Evidently one of the most used and popular applications all over the world, you see people congregating in parks and city centres playing this game. But you also see more and more people walking with their head down looking at their phone, keeping their eyes on the prize.

So the argument FOR Pokémon Go? Because it gets people moving around and walking, as opposed to the usage of most other games and applications on our phones, it reduces the level of sedentary behaviour. Now you can’t argue against the fact that it does in fact achieve this. So, what is the argument against?

The first Pokémon Go related Car accident was reported in Victoria a few weeks ago, where a 19 year old crashed his car into a local school whilst he was playing the game. Many larger corporations and businesses have made pleas to have Pokémon Go STOPS (congregation points) removed from their business as it has been causing issues with traffic flow. There was a reported case in America of some children getting robbed, as they placed a “lure” on a secluded Pokéspot in order to get players to approach, before robbing them. We can then compare the adverse health effects from the game, where there have been cases of people breaking bones and falling over because they haven’t been watching where they’ve been going. And like the use of mobile phones in general, the extended use of looking down towards the phone can cause joint pain and postural changes.

So what is the verdict?

Both arguments for and against the app are valid. Kids have played video games for decades, and they will continue to play games for years to come. If they are going to be playing video games, it’s probably better that they are walking instead of sitting. But the safety issues of our children are also very valid and should be addressed. All children should be educated to be vigilant regarding the topic of stranger danger, and walking around alone in strange places late at night, regardless of a phone app.

There is a bigger picture outside Pokémon Go. The high usage of mobile phones, before Pokémon, has caused car accidents and injuries because people walk around texting or looking at Facebook and aren’t watching where they are going. Plenty of people report increased joint pain, postural changes and increased sedentary behaviour before Pokémon Go. Phone usage can be related to many other sedentary behaviour's, which then continue to contribute to our risk factors of developing more serious health problems such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease etc.

Exercise Physiologists will always promote movement for the human body, however this is always under safe and controlled circumstances.

What are your thoughts on Pokemon Go, and the use of mobile phones?

Photo Credit: Paweł Kuczyński

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