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Pokémon Go: The New Digital Addiction

Pokémon Go: The New Digital Addiction

Author: Justin Mckibben

Let’s talk about Pokémon Go, why not? Considering literally everyone else in the world is, why shouldn’t we get in on the action? Ever since this new phenomenon has hit the streets in the form of an interactive smartphone app that is quickly consuming the lives of customers all over America there have been some pretty intense stories. It seems the game is probably one of the most instantaneously addictive things on the market right now, so of course it brings to mind previous conversations on:

I can personally say I was pretty amused when my roommate stumbled out of his room at 2 AM in his underwear chasing invisible creatures through the apartment via his phone like a mad man…

Apparently, there is some rare breed of something hiding in my closet… but I digress…

People have become obsessed overnight with this game. It seems any time you walk into a room with anyone around the age of… being alive… you are going to be an obstacle in their mission of hunting some pixelated Pokémon. Some people are worried about how obsessed people have become. Others insist it has done wonders for their mental health. So I wanted to take a look at some of these interesting theories.

What is it?

Essentially Pokémon Go is a game based on a Nintendo-owned franchise that was especially popular in the late 1990’s. This new smartphone game uses a phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when people are in the game. Then it makes Pokémon “appear” around you.

No, not literally… but you can see them through your phone camera on the screen… so basically real life, right?

The idea is to go and catch them. Different and more types of Pokémon will appear depending on where you are and what time it is.

Mental Health

First let us say that many of these claims can’t be fully legitimized at this time. However, Twitter users seem confident in what they see happening with others and experiencing themselves regarding mental health and Pokémon Go. One Twitter user put it as:

Pokémon Go is literally making people with depression and anxiety and agoraphobia leave the house and explore and socialize.”

Which when you examine the nature of the game does actually make some sense. Pokémon Go requires users to go into the outside world and explore to find Pokémon and items.

Many players have said that the game gives them an incentive to get out of the house and be active. It inspires some to exercise and spend time outdoors, while having fun and interacting with others. Now if you look at it this way, how could it not do some good for mental health?

I honestly had to wonder this myself when the game was first announced. As I watched co-workers and friends wonder aimlessly through parking lots and gather together to share their latest catches, I figured this was giving us a new way to get outside more and get active with one another. Maybe it’s not so bad, right?

Then there is the argument of if the trade-off is worth it for having teens and young adults yet again dragged too deep into their phones. This concern also makes sense to me. If you have this new obsession with constantly striving to “catch em all” then how will your personal relationships and responsibilities suffer? I don’t know anyone personally, but you can be sure a few people have already lost their jobs or blown off their dates to chase Pikachu around a grocery store.

Pokémon Related Injury

This is one side-effect I definitely saw coming, but I was not aware of the magnitude that it might manifest in. Already Pokémon– related injuries are being reported all over the country. So many people have admitted in social media forums that they completely forgot where they were, dropping all focus on their surroundings.

One Reddit user’s story has made the rounds online about ending up in the ER on night after falling into a ditch and fracturing bones in their foot 30 minutes into playing the game. There are even accounts of drivers getting into traffic accidents because they were playing the game out the window while driving.

To be fair, the makers of the game did make a warning to be aware of surroundings.

Risky Rocket Business

This should be taken as a serious warning if nothing else. The game has been notably misused already. Police in O’Fallon, Missouri have reported four people suspected of armed robberies involving Pokémon Go. The suspects reportedly placed beacons, which are a feature available in the game to interact with the surroundings, to lure people to their locations where they robbed them. 11 teenagers have been mugged this way so far, according to this initial report.

So #TeamRocket is becoming an actual thing… and they are freaking people out. Is this gaming addiction really that serious? Do people really need to risk their lives, or the lives of others, for these imaginary monsters?

Most Addictive App Ever?

Some are already calling Pokémon Go the most addictive gaming app ever. It has experienced a number of technical issues since its launch, including server crashes and other issues. Still, for a FREE gaming app with all this hype, it is doing pretty well for itself. Looking back there was Pokémon Blue and other titles for the franchise. People have been working their way up to this all along.

The question remains- what could this do for people’s mental health? If it really is that addictive, what consequences will it reap on those who have a tendency of taking things too far? Will we see a spike in gaming addiction and obsessive behaviors? Or will it actually have a mixed impact as it lures people out of their homes and into their communities. Some surprising testimonies have told how random strangers in a community come together, united over the teams they choose and to make strategies for how to play.

So next time you see someone blindly following their phone into on-coming traffic… maybe they are just trying to track down a Evee or a Squirtle? Maybe you should save them from themselves and keep them on the sidewalk… or some of you will probably hope to have the Pokémon to yourself… FOR SHAME!

Addiction can involve behaviors not related to taking drugs or drinking excessively. You can be addicted to the internet, gaming, gambling, sex, eating, or any other behavior that is causing problems in your life, such as destroying relationships, your health, or interfering with your job. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call us at 1-800-951-6135

Gaming Addiction is a Matter of Life and Death

 Gaming Addiction is a Matter of Life and Death

A 32-year-old man was found dead in an Internet cafe in Taiwan after a marathon three-day gaming binge, making this the island’s second death of an online gamer this year.

According to Jennifer Wu, a police spokesperson from the local precinct, the man entered the cafe in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second largest city, on January 6.

An employee at the café found him motionless and sprawled on a table at 10 a.m. on January 8. He was then rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead from cardiac failure.

“He has been unemployed for a long time, and internet cafes were the only place he could go to,” she said.

“His family said he would disappear for two to three days on end.”

It is not known exactly how long the man lay dead in the Internet cafe but police said his body had entered rigor mortis, meaning that it had already begun to stiffen – an indication that he must have been dead for at least several hours before being noticed.

Police further added that gamers in the café continued playing their online games as if nothing had happened, even when the police and paramedics arrived.

Gaming Addiction is a Matter of Life and Death

“The CCTV footage from the Internet cafe showed that he had a small struggle before he collapsed motionless,” said Wu.

A police statement added that the cold temperatures and over-exhaustion from the long hours spent playing games likely contributed to the man’s cardiac arrest.

According to the Taipei Times, the man was a “regular customer” who often played for consecutive days.

“When tired, he would sleep face down on the table or doze off slumped in his chair,” the staff member was quoted as saying.

“That is why we were not aware of his condition in the beginning.”

Video Game Addiction Has Affected Others

Marathon sessions of online gaming in Taiwan have resulted in other deaths recently, too.

Similarly, a 38-year-old man was also found dead at an Internet cafe in Taipei on January 1 after playing video games for five days straight.

And previously, back in 2012, the dead body of man went unnoticed for 10 hours by other gamers and staff. The victim in this case had also died while playing online games for a marathon session.

Addiction can involve behaviors not related to taking drugs or drinking excessively. Many people struggle with obsessions to compulsively do things that affect them negatively, whether you’re addicted to the internet, gaming, gambling, sex, eating, or any other behavior that is causing problems in your life, such as destroying relationships, your health, or interfering with your job, please call us at toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. This is someone who is trained and equipped to answer your questions. Often times, it’s someone who is in recovery from some form of addiction, themselves.  

Help for Gaming Addiction

Help for Gaming Addiction

Help for Gaming Addiction: What is Gaming Addiction?

Video game addiction is described as an excessive or compulsive use of computer games or video games, like online gaming, which interferes with a person’s everyday life. Video game addiction may present as compulsive game-playing that is paired with increased social isolation, mood swings, diminished imagination, and hyper-focus on in-game achievements, to the exclusion of other events in life.

Help for Gaming Addiction: It’s a Real Problem for Some

And, although some would disagree whether or not this is a real addiction, you can follow any kind of news trends and find instances that sound a lot like there really is such a thing as gaming addiction; cases such as people suffering exhaustion after playing video games for 50 hours straight, teens killing their parents for taking away their games, and parents neglecting infants while being mesmerized by the online world.

And now, more recently, cases in which people have died after online gaming binges: two such cases occurred already in 2015 (and we’re still in first month of the new year); the other of which occurred in 2012.

The medical community recognizes certain behaviors – not just the abuse of substances as many think – as addictive. According to psychiatrist Michael Brody, MD, the following are criteria for an addiction:

  • The person needs more and more of a substance or behavior to get through the day
  • If the person does not get more of the substance or behavior, they become irritable and miserable

Help for Gaming Addiction: Treatment

Similar to treatment for substance abuse and addiction, there are rehabilitation centers that offer programs for addictive behaviors such as gambling and online gaming. Rehabs that provide help for gaming addiction do this in several ways.

The first way that treatment helps is it separates the gamer from the materials they need in which to continue “using.” In this way, the process of breaking the cycle of gaming can begin. You will be in a comfortable and safe place where you will begin to heal from the obsession and compulsivity to get online and continue gaming.

The second way in which help for gaming addiction works is that it will offer you healthy coping tools for dealing with the behaviors that have come to control your life. Through group and individual therapy sessions, you will address the ways your gaming addiction has negatively impacted your life and learn to rebuild relationships, specifically, and a life anew, in general.

Individual therapy will allow you to speak one-on-one with a licensed therapist with whom you will formulate a treatment plan and set treatment goals that you want to accomplish while getting help for gaming addiction.

Group sessions are just as important to your rehabilitation. Peer support has been shown to be immensely beneficial to the client who wishes to get over their gaming addiction. This works in two ways: you will receive peer support and feedback as well as be able to give support and feedback, which will help you form connections for yourself when it comes to healing and recovering from your online gaming addiction or other video game addiction.

Do you experience obsessive thoughts and a compulsion to engage is certain behaviors? Has it made your life unmanageable – causing strained relationships, financial problems, and other negative consequences such as risks to your health? Do you feel irritable and moody when you try to stop? It might be time to seek professional help. Call an Addiction Specialist today at toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

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