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5 Ways Pokémon Go Is Already Changing the Real World

Posted 10/21/2016 by UHBlog

Did your children get caught up in the Pokémon Go craze this summer? Ask us how to keep its positive health benefits going.

5 Ways Pokémon Go Is Already Changing the Real World

If your kids went from couch potato to neighborhood adventurer intent on capturing Bulbasar, Psyduck, Zubat and other Pokémon this summer, they had a lot of company. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide downloaded the Pokémon Go app on their smartphones and walked streets and parks in search of Pokémon to complete their Pokédex.

“Pokémon Go made kids excited,” says Sara Lee, MD. “Many of them knew about it from the cartoon (anime) television series. It got kids – and their families – out and moving.”

Unlike some other apps designed for children – such as NFL Play 60, which was developed by the NFL and the American Heart Association to get kids running and jumping while an onscreen character mimics their actions – Pokémon Go drew players outside and in the real world.

Even though children are back in school and the craze has waned, you can expect technology like it to continue to have a place in kids' play and games. In fact, Pokémon Go is already changing the real world by:

  1. Encouraging kids to walk more. “We recommend that children get a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity daily,” Dr. Lee says. "To catch Pokémon, children went outside and walked around. It was an integral part of the game.”
    Being outside is also good for a person’s mental health, thanks to the combination of physical activity and fresh air.
  2. Promoting conversations in families. Many of Dr. Lee's patients and their parents played the game together. As they walked in search of Pokémon, they talked about everything and anything, including things beyond the game.
  3. Offering teachable moments. “The game provided a way for parents to teach their children how to use this and other technology responsibly,” Dr. Lee. “By playing together, parents can instill their values and expectations.”
    For those parents who played alongside their children, it also showed them that you want to be involved and are interested in what they are doing.
  4. Learning to collaborate. In any given area, the Pokémon who appear are visible to everyone. Children learn to collaborate with their friends to find – and capture – them.
    Another aspect is strangers talking to each about the Pokémon. By talking to your child about this in advance, you're able to reinforce your expectations about strangers –including unknown older children – and how to set limits, Dr. Lee says.
  5. Developing cognitive skills and dexterity. Your phone's GPS helps you to know when a Pokémon (or PokéStop, etc.) is within range. Children will need to know directions and other skills in order to maneuver and catch the creatures.
    It's also a good opportunity to reinforce safety, Dr. Lee says.
    “You should discuss the importance of being mindful of their surroundings with this, or any, game,” she says. “There were stories in the news during the height of Pokémon Go that mentioned people being robbed, walking into traffic and other negative situations. Talk to your child about your expectations.”

While downtime is important for everyone, parents need to set reasonable screen time limits. The rule of thumb is to limit all screen time – including time spent on apps, video games, TV, the computer and social media – to two hours for children between the ages of 3 and 18.

Sara Lee, MD is a pediatrician at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. You can request an appointment with Dr. Lee or any other doctor online.

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