Pokémon Go has spread across the world through young people’s phones in a matter of days. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably seen something about this new augmented reality (AR) game. Unlike other games, though, Pokémon Go is inspiring those with teen social anxiety and depression to get out and face their fears with the mission of catching as many Pokémon as they can.

Pokemon Go’s popularity

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Example of game without AR

Pokémon–the TV show–started in the 90s and quickly became popular among young children and teens. Now those young children are teenagers and those teens are adults. This is why Pokémon Go is popular across a broad range of ages.

What exactly is Pokemon Go?

Pokémon Go uses your GPS signal and smartphone camera to put Pokémon characters in the real world surrounding the player. The game utilizes an augmented reality setting for the game, which is a live view of a real-world environment which has computer-generated additions like graphics (Pokémon), sound, and more. The goal is to “catch” these Pokémon–but you have to actually walk around in the real world to do it. You can earn points, prizes, and even battle other people’s Pokémon.

How this can improve teen social anxiety & depression

Now Pokémon Go isn’t a miracle cure or anything of the sort, but it could become a radical new way to get those struggling with teen social anxiety and depression out of the house and interact with the world. When someone thinks of a gamer, they usually picture a kid in their dark room staring at a screen–but this game is not only interactive with the player’s outside environment, it encourages the player to interact with the people around them if they want to excel in the game. This is why it has the possibility of helping teen social anxiety & depression.

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Example of game with AR

Exercising, even just a 30 minute walk a day, has been shown to greatly improve depression in all ages. For many of those struggling with teen depression, it’s stressful to think about going out into the world and getting social, but when you attach it to something positive that gets you motivated, suddenly it seems a little easier for these people. You cannot move forward in the game without getting at least some walking in and interacting with a few people–so Pokémon Go’s developers have created a happy accident that can improve mental health.
The game only came out recently, so many more observations and studies need to be conducted to catalog the extent of it helping teen social anxiety and depression. But just by the multitude of Facebook posts and tweets, it’s clear Pokémon Go is having a positive effect on some individuals battling teen social anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. So, my advice to young people is to go out, look both ways before crossing the street, and catch ‘em all.

blueFire Wilderness can help

blueFire Wilderness is a wilderness therapy program for struggling teens, ages 11 to 17. Our students often grapple with anxiety, depression, teen social anxiety, and other emotional or behavioral problems. At blueFire, we strive to help each client succeed.
For more information about how blueFire Wilderness handles teen social anxiety and depression, please call 1 (844) 413-1999 today!

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