When used properly, videogames like Pokemon Go can have major health benefits. Infermera Virtual helps us to discover how this game helps to encourage physical exercise, bring families closer together or to improve interpersonal communication.
By now, no one doubts that Pokemon Go has become a kick-start for the mobile app industry worldwide. It is the most successful game for mobile devices of all times, and it follows a single premise: capturing the creatures from the famous cartoon series of the same name. The application was downloaded 75 million times during the first three weeks alone, and it reached 45 million active users. A cast of characters known around the world coupled with a game based on geolocation and virtual reality has become a resounding market success.
Oftentimes you hear more about the negative effects that videogames can cause, such as dependence and isolation, but the fact is that if they are used as educational resources and children are taught to use them correctly, videogames can be very beneficial tools for them. Pokemon Go is one example: the app “makes” you move, “makes” you walk around the city and parks to locate and hunt down the Pokemons. This is rewarded, just like any good game, by the player going up to the next level and becoming a “trainer”, and it makes the app an interesting tool to promote healthy habits.
Does it really make us move?
It is true that you can play Pokemon Go without getting up from the couch, but that’s not the idea that has made this app a social phenomenon, since in order to move up in the game you have to take to the streets and parks of any city in the world. The players, or “trainers”, have to walk here, there and everywhere in order to succeed in the challenges that the game poses.
This feature of the videogame can be the perfect chance for parents to encourage their children to engage in physical activity as they go out together and plan routes. Just like any physical activity, walking while hunting Pokemons will increase the number of calories we burn. Below is a report on the estimated kilometres that we have to talk in order to reach different levels in the game.
Km / Level
Level 12 → 24.3 Km
Level 20 → 68.8 Km
Level 22 → 97.2 Km
At just a quick glance, these figures show how technological advances can contribute to encouraging healthy habits and lifestyles.
New strategies for healthcare professionals
Pokemon Go can also be an example of how healthcare professionals can add new strategies related to digital health to improve the care they provide their patients.
For example, a specialist can prescribe Pokemon Go to their overweight or obese patients in order to get away from a sedentary lifestyle and encourage them to engage in physical activity. Likewise, this game can generate new routines in which family members spend time together and improve communication and their interpersonal relationships. Since this is a game that different generations enjoy, children and adults alike can find a form of entertainment which interests both of them, and bonds can be created more than with other kinds of videogames.
These are just two examples of how a product which was launched for commercial purposes can be used as a health resource and become a very powerful tool in generating healthy habits. Nonetheless, Pokemon Go’s ability to influence the acquisition of these healthy habits among the population is something that depends on many factors. In theory, its developers must be capable of retaining society’s interest in a game and application which, just like all of them on the market, have to either grow or be reinvented. Meantime, similar applications that will try to copy Pokemon Go’s incredible recipe for success are sure to arise, so let’s take advantage of it to keep walking.