Could Pokemon GO Be Used For Mental Health Therapy?

Could Pokemon GO Be Used For Mental Health Therapy?

In the first year after its release, there was a ton of research surrounding Pokemon GO’s ability to increase physical activity and health for its players. Multiple studies suggested that the increased motivation to get out of the house and walking around had led to positive results for some players. Now, a new study is taking a closer look at the mental benefits of the game, in addition to the physical.

The research, which Michael Van Ameringen, MD, and colleagues from McMaster University, presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in New York City looked into the potential therapeutic benefits of Pokemon GO for those with mental illness.

The study was based on analytics from 152 participants, with the majority (57%) being white, female (78%), single (89%), and full-time students (62%). The average playtime per week for the participants was about seven hours. Here are some of the most interesting numbers to come out of the analytics…

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“33% (n = 50) of those utilizing the app reported changes in their social behaviors since they began playing the game. Of that group, 85% reported speaking to more people they were unfamiliar with, 76% spent increased time with friends, 41% made new friends, and 51% reported increasing their physical activity (12% reported weight loss)…

“Interestingly, the participants with a history of treatment for mental health conditions spent more time playing than their peers without previous mental health treatment. An improved sense of well-being was reported by 29% of participants.”

Although video games are often associated with violence and negative behavior in the media, there are many studies every year that suggest certain types of gaming habits actually can promote healthy mental and physical behaviors. This research is yet another indication that games have the potential to add value consumer’s lives.

It will be interesting to see if the researchers continue studying Pokemon GO or attempt to actively use the game as a therapeutic device. We’ll keep an eye out for future research and post updates. Until then, good luck out there, trainers!

Pokemon GO is available now in select regions on Android and iOS devices.

Source: MD Magazine


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