If you are connected to social medial in any way, it’s impossible not to be bombarded with news of the new game Pokémon Go. Anyone – from young kids to grandparents – is getting hooked on this new craze and some say it’s helping them get more active. People are chiming in about the mental and physical benefits of this new game and lots of parents are reporting anecdotal stories about their once very sedentary kids now walking miles a day.
So what is behind this new Pokémon frenzy?
Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic and published by The Pokémon Company. The game allows players to capture, battle and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear throughout the real world. It makes use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices. It asks the players to walk around their neighbourhoods and hunt down Pokémon, which the game triggers at semi-random locations. The basic premise of the game is simple: catch Pokémon, take over gyms and level up.
I think the key word in all of this is walk. The game is encouraging people to get up and move and it is working. It’s amazing how much of a motivator this game has been for getting people out of their homes and offices to get active. Plus, the added benefit of fresh air and a little vitamin D from the sunlight is also helping the game gain momentum.
Another reason this game is attracting so much attention is that it is getting people to talk to each other. Technology often isolates us and minimises human contact; this game is encouraging people to interact with others and get out in their community. Tara Haelle told Forbes Magazine that one of the best parts about this game is that “it brings people totally – literally – in real life. I’ve lived in Peoria for four years now. I’ve never seen so many people out and about exploring parks and talking to one another.”
Like so many other popular trends, people are getting injured playing this game. Two men from California fell off a cliff while being distracted playing the game and other reports are coming in about ankle injuries, mishaps involving doors and walking into trees. The bottom line with all of the safety issues is the same as any other activity that requires you to move your body: pay attention. Some basic tips before you embark on this game:
1. Be aware of your surroundings and make sure you look up from your phone often.
2. Don’t play and drive.
3. Pick safe, pedestrian populated locations to play.
4. Play in a group. Not only does this promote the social benefits, it helps protect younger players from dangerous interactions with others.
Sara Lindburg has a B.S. in Exercise Science and an M.Ed. in Counselling. A 41-year-old wife, mother, and full-time secondary school counsellor, she combines 20-plus years' experience in the fitness and counselling fields and she has found her passion in inspiring other women to be the best version of themselves on her Facebook page, FitMom. Her inspiration for writing comes from her 6-year-old son, Cooper, and 8-year-old daughter, Hanna. Follow Sara on twitter.