I know that many of you are going to roll your eyes and say “Oh here goes Dr. Manny, the joy stealer who doesn’t want us to have any fun. Stick to medicine doc, and let us play,” but let me tell you why I’m afraid of Pokemon GO. I find the whole craze silly, stupid and even dangerous.
Today I interviewed a psychologist for a health segment on this craze, who tried to sell me on his opinion that Pokemon GO could actually offer some health benefits for players, especially those who suffer from mental illnesses like anxiety, depression or phobias. He referred to the game as augmented reality, and spoke about how through these technologies people can explore a world that enables them to challenge their fears, helping to improve their moods and behaviors.
Now, I like to give any scientist or licensed doctor the benefit of the doubt, but to me, this is more about the potential interpretation of a new toy than it is about any potential benefit. Here is what I know about the dangers of what this game has to offer: The American Academy of Pediatrics came out with a statement recently that said video game and online violence is affecting our children more than ever. It recommended that parents monitor their children’s activities when viewing this type of content or playing this type of game. There are now enough studies reaching the same conclusion about this type of “normalized” violence, and there is proof in the sheer number of children suffering from altered behavior, disrupted sleep patterns and lack of social skills.
The technology in video games and the themes that they carry have become far more sophisticated than the days of Atari and Pong. While there are specific rating recommendations for games, like “M” for mature, I challenge you to find me a store actually checking customers’ IDs before collecting the $60-plus profit of the sale.