This Tech Time Warp brings you back to 2005, when video games like Pokémon were tested to see whether or not they have a negative impact on kids’ health. Well before the Pokémon Go craze, Pokémon debuted in Japan for the Nintendo Game Boy System on February 27, 1996, as ‘Pocket Monsters.’ It quickly took the world by storm. TV shows, movies, cards, video games, you name it — Pokémon was everywhere! In December 1997, seizures were reported in Japan that were supposedly caused by the TV show. This was later disproved in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2004, but people were starting to wonder, “Has Pokémon created an unhealthy culture?” (Sound familiar?)
Are video games are good for kids?
In July 2005, Steven Johnson tackled that question in the article “Could it be that video games are good for kids?” exploring whether or not these games can be beneficial. Johnson said that video games’ increasing complexity was teaching kids new skills. “That difficulty is not merely a question of hand-to-eye coordination,” Johnson wrote. “Most of today's games force kids to learn complex rule systems, master challenging new interfaces, follow dozens of shifting variables in real time and prioritize between multiple objectives.” According to Johnson, these new skills children are learning from video games will help them later on in life—and in the workforce.
Moreover, the article argued that since Grand Theft Auto debuted carjacking rates had dropped substantially because kids were getting their “thrills” from the video game. The only downfall that Johnson pointed out about video games have is that “kids don't get physical exercise when they play a video game, and indeed the rise in obesity among younger people is a serious issue. But, of course, you don't get exercise from doing homework, either.”
Pokémon Go, and your health
Have you caught the Pokémon Go fever yet? Many have, and it seems that everywhere you go someone is either talking about it or playing it. Great news — Pokémon Go is great for your mental health! According to the National Post, “For those with depression, who can have difficulty finding the energy to leave the house, the new game has been a motivating force. People with social anxiety are meeting other players in the context of play, where social interaction can seem less daunting.”
Additionally, the International Bipolar Foundation has applauded the game for helping get people out of their houses and get active. Vox Technology also weighed in on the Pokémon epidemic, saying: “The game may encourage physical activity, and we certainly could use more of it. But it’s an unlikely fix for the obesity epidemic, given that low physical activity is not the main driver of it.”
Even though Pokémon might just be a fad, it’s encouraging us to leave our cool air-conditioned houses and enjoy some beautiful July weather. Just be sure to watch where you’re going!