WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Location-based mobile games like Pokémon Go could benefit those with depression.
- Games like Pokémon Go promote outdoor activities, face-to-face socialization, and exposure to nature, the researchers said.
- The paper said location-based mobile games or apps could contribute to the solution to the growing mental health problem.
Location-based mobile games like Pokémon Go could benefit those with non-clinical depression, a paper published in the Journal of Management Information Systems concluded.
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) researchers examined mobile gaming and how it affected population-level depression. The speculation is that location-based games that promote outdoor activities, face-to-face social interaction, and prolonged exposure to nature could help those with mild depression.
Pokémon GO was released in 2016, but it took almost 50 weeks for the game to be distributed in the 166 targeted regions from 12 English-speaking countries.
The paper exploited this staggered release and considered locations where the game was released at a later date as a natural control group. This enabled the researchers to compare depression levels in locations where the game was available to locations where it was unavailable.
To calculate local depression levels, the paper used a well-established mechanism from the medical and public health literature, internet search of depression-related terms including “depression”, “stress,” and “anxiety”,
The game’s release was associated with a significant short-term decrease in depression-related internet searches.
This confirmed initial speculations, that since users are pushed to participate in outdoor activities, face-to-face social interactions, and expose themselves to nature, these mobile games could help those with non-clinical, mild depression. This is also in agreement with other literature that documented these mentioned factors as beneficial to mental health.
The paper recommended that legislators should look into technological approaches like location-based mobile games or apps, describing them as something that could be a part of the solution to the mental health problem. This solution comes at a modest cost and access to these mobile games is easy.
Researchers made a note, however, that this applies to those suffering from mild depression, not chronic or severe depressive disorders.
Source: Good News Network