A children’s hospital in Ann Harbour, Michigan has jumped on the “Pokémon GO” bandwagon.
CS Mott Children’s Hospital recently began using the augmented-reality app to help kids who spend most of their days bedridden find new reasons to roam the hospital floor.
When they aren’t receiving treatment, the young Pokémon masters can check out local pokéstops (a Big Bird statue is a popular one) and battle at Pokémon gyms.
“It’s a fun way to encourage patients to be mobile,” JJ Bouchard, digital media manager and certified child life specialist at the hospital, told USA Today
. “This app is getting patients out of beds and moving around.”
Less than two weeks since its July 6 release, experts already agree that “Pokémon GO” does wonders for people’s mental health.
“The research is really, really clear on this, that the more you exercise, the more it would help decrease feelings of depression,” Dr. John Grohol, mental health expert and founder of Psych Central, told Engadget
. “It actually works as an anti-depressant and it has a really, pretty strong effect.”
The game may not be designed to elicit this effect, but it happens anyway. Jane McGonigal, gaming expert and director of games research & development at the Institute for the Future, says the system of rewards — hatching eggs, levelling up, evolving your Pokémon — gets people hooked.
In turn, that promotes healthy behaviour.
“We discount the effort required, we discount the energy required, and we think more about the positive possible outcomes,” she tells Tech Insider.
Some hospitals have run into trouble with “Pokémon GO,” however. Outside the hospital walls, users are dropping “lures” — paid-for bait that attract Pokémon to the area.
While well-intentioned, in some cases it has been disappointing kids who can’t access them or causing people to loiter around the building.