Latimer: Pokeman Go offers nonthreatening social outing

It would be hard to miss the latest trend sweeping the nation the past couple of weeks.

LatimerEven if you don’t engage with social media or the news, it would be hard to miss the latest trend sweeping the nation.

Chances are good if you’ve been out in a public place, you’ve noticed more than typical numbers of people walking around glued to their phones.

Millions of people are playing a new augmented reality game called Pokemon Go.

Users walk around their neighbourhoods and cities to find Pokemon characters, hatch eggs or meet up to battle their Pokemon in ‘gyms’—all using their smartphones.

Think what you will about the game or its players, this is a fad that is getting a lot of attention and some proponents say it has potential positive effects for people living with anxiety and depression.

A recent CBC article out of Edmonton interviewed a couple of young people who claim the game has helped them break a cycle of avoidance and given them a structure and purpose to resume getting out of their homes and interacting with other people.

This very well could be a helpful tool for some—in particular for people whose anxiety keeps them from leaving their homes.

Searching for a Pokemon character could prove an effective distraction and allow the individual to be in feared situations such as crowded places without focusing on their anxiety.

Once a person has experienced the spot with positive association or without triggering anxiety, it becomes easier to repeat that exposure or gradually increase it.

This is similar to how we deal with avoidant behaviour in a therapeutic setting.

Gradual exposure to feared situations helps to lessen the grip of fear.

For people experiencing difficulty socializing or who feel depressed and isolated, this game gives a non-threatening conversation starter and also helps players feel they are not alone.

When a person walks to a crowded spot while playing the game, it is easy to identify others who are also playing.

Some say the experience of quickly looking around an area and determining other likely players helps them feel they are not alone.

Though we tend to hear negative comments about the addictive nature of such games or critiques of people focusing entirely on their phones and walking zombie-like through town, it is also possible to find a positive side to a game like Pokemon Go.

For some, it is providing at least a temporary relief from symptoms that can be both distressing and debilitating.

Of course, a game like this is not a substitute for effective treatment.

Though it may be a complimentary tool, if you are experiencing anxiety or depression to the point you are avoiding contact with other people or places, speak with your doctor.

Effective treatments are available.

Just Posted

Kelowna man charged with sex crimes gets closer to trial date

A pretrial conference has been scheduled

Bail for man charged in Kelowna murder

The man charged in a 2013 Glenmore-area murder has been released on bail

Former New Zealand politician attacked in jail

Charges have been laid against an inmate who allegedly attacked Peter Beckett during his trial

Illness numbers grow in Interior Health

GI and RI illnesses reported in Vernon, Lake Country, Kelowna, Penticton and Castlegar

Immunization clinics this week

Meningococcal outbreak prompts vaccines across Okanagan

Fire crews investigating oil sheen on Penticton Creek

Fire crews are working to contain the oil from spreading

Kamloops man cuffed after running from police

Kamloops RCMP say a suspect was arrested after running from police

UPDATE: Grizzly bear trophy hunting over in B.C.

Now only Indigenous people can hunt bears for meat

Warriors head to break after 3-point weekend

West Kelowna rallies in third period Sunday to tie Powell River in last game before Xmas

Star Blue Jays announced for Vancouver ‘Winter Tour’ event in January

Toronto’s pro baseball team heads west for two-day event

UPDATE: ‘Multiple fatalities’ as Amtrak derails over the I-5 in Washington State

13 cars jumped the tracks as train made its first voyage between Seattle and Portland

Mental effects of wildfire still linger in Fort McMurray

‘Resilient, but tired:’ Mental effects of wildfire lingering in Fort McMurray

Climate change hits Winter Olympic preparation

AP Exclusive: Climate change hits Winter Olympic preparation

Calgary Flames thump Vancouver Canucks 6-1

Mark Giordano, Sam Bennett lead the way as Flames thump Canucks 6-1

Most Read