Pokémon Go: Helping Teen Social Anxiety & Depression
July 15, 2016

The new app, 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 app. Unlike other games, 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.

What is Pokemon Go?

Pokémon Go uses your GPS signal and smartphone camera to put Pokémon characters in the real world surrounding whoever is playing it. The goal is to “catch” these Pokémon in the real world–but you have to actually walk around in the real world to do it. You can earn points, prizes, etc. and even battle other people’s Pokémon.

Pokemon Go’s popularity  

The Pokémon TV show–started in the 90s and became quickly popular with 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.

How Does This Help Social Anxiety & Depression?

Pokémon Go could become a radical new way to get those struggling with teen social anxiety and depression out of the house and interacting 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 people around them if they want to excel in the game.

Exercising, even just a 30 minute walk a day, has been shown to greatly improve mental health issues like depression in all ages. For many of those struggling with teen social anxiety or depression, it’s difficult to think about going out into the world and getting social. When you attach socializing and exercising 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 was only recently released, so more observations and studies need to be conducted to catalog the true benefits; but by the vas popularity and multitude of Facebook posts and tweets, it’s clear Pokémon Go is having a positive effect on some of those battling teen social anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. So, my advice to young people is to let this be an opportunity to get out, meet new people, and catch ‘em all.
For more information about social anxiety and depression, please check out BlueFire Wilderness

BlueFire Wilderness Therapy is a wilderness therapy program for teens ages 11-17. For more information, please call 1 (844) 413-1999 today!

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