Is 'Pokémon Go' Helping Kids Exercise or Exposing Them to Danger? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on July 13, 2016

Is Pokémon Go Helping Kids Exercise or Exposing Them to Danger?

Is ‘Pokémon Go’ Helping Kids Exercise or Exposing Them to Danger?

Pokémon Go, a new augmented reality game,
uses your smartphone’s GPS to locate you
in the game and make Pokémon characters
appear around you.

It’s summer, school is out and your kids are chilling. But are they chilling too much?

While children should take a break and have plenty of unstructured time during the summer months, there is an increasing trend for kids to spend time glued to screens – TV, video games, smartphones and tablets. Some screen time is fine, but if kids don’t venture outside to play – i.e., exercise – it isn’t in their best interests.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 75 percent of children and adolescents fail to get at least an hour of moderate physical activity each day; and children between the ages of 12 and 15 are most likely to embrace their inner couch potato. Not coincidentally, more than one-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.

However, it’s part of the parents’ job to make sure their children are learning healthy behaviors, including getting regular exercise. By staying active, kids occupy their bodies and minds, burn off some calories and stay fit, and can develop a commitment to exercise that becomes a healthy habit as they get older.

What Is Pokémon Go?

Interestingly, a new smartphone app is encouraging kids to get outside and explore. Pokémon Go, a new augmented reality game, uses your smartphone’s GPS to locate you in the game and make Pokémon characters appear around you. On one hand, the game is leading people to get exercise as they hunt for Pokémon around their area. There are even challenges that require walking a specific distance, up to 5km, to accomplish a goal.

On the other hand, there are some safety risks involved. Even though players, called “trainers” in the game, are getting exercise as they search for characters, they are still glued to their screen. Walking around with their phones in front of them, not always paying attention to the outside world, participants can trip, fall or bump into obstacles.

Is Pokémon Go good or bad for children’s health? The jury is still out.

Other Ways to Get Active

Whether your kids download the app and play or not, it’s still important to put down the gadgets and get outside regularly. Here are some ideas for parents who are struggling to pry your kids away from their screens and get their blood pumping.

  • Go for a hike. This can be a trip to a local park, a walk through the woods, or simply a walk around the neighborhood.
  • Go swimming. The kids will almost certainly never say no to this. They don’t have to be swimming laps at an Olympic-sized pool; simply splashing around in the water, playing tag or whatever game they can think up, is good exercise.
  • Play in the yard. Whiffle ball, chasing fireflies at dusk, climbing on a playset – these are all fun activities that will keep the kids in shape.
  • Do some chores. Granted, this might not be the most enticing activity for kids, but it is good exercise – cleaning closets, mopping floors and picking up their toys not only gets them off the rear ends and active, it also helps out Mom and Dad by uncluttering the house. Alternatively, if you have a garden, have the kids help out there. It’s hard work, good exercise, and they’ll get to see the benefits of their labor.

When the kids are spending time outside playing, make sure they have plenty of sunscreen on, and that they stay well hydrated.

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