Parents who regularly play “Pokemon GO” with their children report a number of side benefits including increased exercise, more time spent outdoors and opportunities for family bonding, says a study.
Pokemon GO is a location-based augmented reality game in which players capture fictional creatures from the Japanese Pokemon franchise on smartphones and other mobile devices by “finding” them in real-world locations.
“Location-based augmented reality games are pretty different than sitting in front of a TV or playing a typical video game, so we were interested in the way kids and their parents were sharing those experiences together,” said lead author Kiley Sobel from University of Washington.
“People still don’t really know how to build tech that works well for families, so when this game came out of the blue and really caught on, we wanted to look at what its ingredients for success were,” Sobel said.
The results, taken from a qualitative survey of 67 parents and interviews with 20 additional parents playing “Pokémon GO” with their families in the US, are detailed in a paper to be presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI 2017 conference to be held at Denver, Colorado in May.
Some parents said the interactive and mobile nature of the game made them feel better about engaging in that type of gameplay, as opposed to more sedentary forms of “screen time”, according to the study.
The study did not include perspectives of parents who do not allow their children to play Pokemon GO.
Many parents — particularly moms of boys, fathers of girls and parents of teenaged children — reported spending more quality time with their children as a result of playing “Pokémon GO” together and talking more than usual, both about the game itself and about other things in their lives, the researchers said.
Parents also appreciated how the game motivated both them and their children to go outside and exercise in ways that were convenient and fit into their lives, as their children displayed newfound enthusiasm for walking the dog or walking rather than driving to dinner or playgrounds.
For some participants, these “Poké-walks” led to walking thousands more steps per day, the study said.