JACKSONVILLE, Fla.- Pokemon Go is an app that is sweeping the nation....and it's gaining some negative headlines to be sure. Our most recent local news of teens being shot at over the app, comes after a string of stories from around the nation about people being arrested, falling off cliffs and getting stuck in cemeteries, to name a few.
There has been somewhat of a consensus that things are indeed getting out of hand.
The flip side to that, is there are actually health benefits that are indirectly associated with the app. With the push to walk outside, Associate Professor with the Psychology Department at the University of North Florida, Dr. Tracy Alloway, said there are definite cognitive benefits.
So, even though we may be distracted by catching 'em all, our brains are still relaxing as we walk outside.
Walking can lead to some trouble, as some of the stories that have gained national attention have shown, but Dr. Alloway believes that these stories are only shedding light on a small percentage of users, and not the whole.
We have seen a lot of the same criticisms we have seen from Pokemon GO with other forms of social media and even back to the invention of texting, said Dr. Alloway. There will be an adjustment period, but in the future it is likely we will hear less stories of people walking into traffic or waltzing off a cliff.
The truth is, we are good multi-taskers, generally speaking, and Jacksonville is a great space for us to be able to socialize and use this app. It's bringing people out of their homes and into the city.
Saturday night, there was a Downtown "Pokecrawl" that attracted a couple hundred people. They went out, met up with one another, and visited bars and restaurants while playing the app. Some businesses even offered specials for Pokemon players. The organizer of the event, Laura, said she hoped to make this a weekly event.
This was a 21 and up event but it's attracting players of all ages because of its easy-to-use interface and it's nostalgia factor, according to Dr. Alloway. It might seem like a game for kids, but the people who were kids when the cartoon was on t.v. have been waiting for a game like this for ages.
The socialization part of this game is really important. It is bringing a demographic of people, those who might rather stay inside and play video games, out into the world while also giving them a way to enjoy a favorite past time.
It can, however, stir in players a feeling that is familiar to those inundated with social media: FOMO. FOMO is the fear of missing out. It's a feeling akin to anxiety that causes a lot of angry messages when the servers of Pokemon GO crash due to an influx of players, Dr. Alloway thinks this doesn't have to be a negative thing, if channeled correctly.
Sure, some people have been caught trying to be the very best trainer and gotten themselves into a precarious situation or two but it is also inspiring innovation.
Dr. Alloway said that external sources make us want to create things. Pokemon GO came out Saturday, July 2, just over a week ago, and already there are things to make playing the game easier:
This drone that engineers made that does the walking for you. It definitely defeats some of the purpose of the game but it's gotten smart people thinking.
Or, how about these creative people who have seen some real money making opportunity in the app?
This idea is touching and cost nothing:
The game warns players to be aware of their surroundings, a little PSA on the dangers of walking, or even driving, distracted. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office released a statement on Facebook.
But the best advice from trainers here at First Coast News, to you out there, is use common sense, be safe, buddy up, use sunscreen and have fun catching them all!
If you'd like to keep up with any local Pokemon GO events, you can checkout the Facebook group here.