It may get you out the house and running around.
But Pokemon Go opens up a whole other world of health problems, doctors warn.
The game sends users running around streets and parks all over the world trying to catch virtual Pokémon with their cell phone cameras.
It uses Google Maps to create a world that mirrors the user’s own reality.
As a result, with their eyes glued to the virtual map on their screen, scores of users have been failing to look out for real life dangers.
One user in California tweeted an x-ray showing he broke his collarbone on the day of the game’s release. Others have sprained their ankles, suffered blistering sunburn, and become neurotic about racking up as many Pokemon as they can.
For all the millions of people addicted to Pokemon Go, there’s good news: it could be your new workout
One user in California tweeted an x-ray showing he broke his collarbone on the day of the game’s release
One user posted a photo of a huge bruise on their leg, writing: ‘My first pokemon go injury lmao. My depth perceptionless ass walked into a bench corner.’
Another said: ‘Is there such thing as a Pokemon Go hangover? Because I think I have one. Sunburnt neck, sore feet, and 0 Pokeballs in my inventory.’
And one wrote: ‘My brother went to catch a Pokémon and ended up with a sprained ankle.’
From blisters and sunburn to pulled muscles and eye strain, medical professionals have given Daily Mail Online a run-down of the ways to stay safe while trying to catch ’em all.
The release of Pokemon Go has coincided with a sweltering heat wave in the US and the UK.
That hasn’t stopped users pounding the streets.
But Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mt Sinai Hospital, has offered Daily Mail Online some tips to avoid skin damage while playing.
‘Apply a nickel sized dollop for your face and reapply every two hours or immediately after heavy sweating,’ Dr Zeichner, an American Academy of Dermatology affiliate, advises.
‘Wear sun protective clothing, broad brimmed hats and sunglasses for additional protection.’
No matter how easily you burn, wear sunscreen with a broad spectrum coverage that has at least SPF 30 protection, he says.
No matter how easily you burn, wear sunscreen with a broad spectrum coverage that has at least SPF 30
Stay out of the sun
And if possible, avoid the sun during peak hours of 10am and 2pm, or even 4pm.
If your Pokemon-catching escapades do lead to a burn, Dr Zeichner advises applying a milk compress with a washcloth soaked in skim milk and ice cubes.
Proteins in the milk coat and soothe the skin, he explains.
Keep the skin hydrated using a aloe based moisturizer, and apply one per cent hydrocortisone ointment twice daily.
If there is pain or any blisters, visit your Dermatologist for a prescription regimen.
‘It doesn’t matter if you are sitting at the beach or running around playing Pokemon Go, you are exposed to UV light from the sun just the same,’ Dr Zeichner advised.
‘Follow the same tips while playing Pokemon Go as you would otherwise when you are out in the sun.’
2. SKIN DAMAGE – FROM YOUR SCREEN
You can suffer long-term damage from UVB rays reflected off your phone screens, The American Academy of Dermatology warns
Dr Zeichner also warns about another kind of skin damage: the eroding effect your phone screen has on your face.
A recent article published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatologists outlined the long-term damage of reflected UVB rays which come from phone screens.
‘If you are outside on your phone or tablet, UV light can reflect from the screen directly to your face.’
He advises limiting the amount of time spent looking at your screen.
According to Anthony Rossi, assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College, the key to beating blisters is prevention.
Protect your feet
Wear nylon or moisture-wicking socks – not cotton.
If wearing one pair of socks doesn’t help, try wearing two pairs to protect your skin.
You should also make sure your shoes fit properly. Shoes shouldn’t be too tight or too loose.
Wear the right clothing
During physical activity, wear moisture-wicking, loose-fitting clothes.
Avoid clothes made of cotton, as cotton soaks up sweat and moisture, which can lead to friction and chafing.
According to Anthony Rossi, assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College, the key to beating blisters is prevention
For problem areas, such as the feet or thighs, consider using adhesive moleskin or other soft bandages. Make sure the bandages are applied securely.
Problem areas? Try powder or petroleum jelly
This helps reduce friction when your skin rubs together or rubs against clothing.
Know when to stop
Stop your activity immediately if you experience pain or discomfort, or if your skin turns red: Otherwise, you may get a blister.
‘If you do get a blister, be patient and try to leave it alone,’ said Dr. Rossi.
‘Most blisters heal on their own in one to two weeks. Don’t resume the activity that caused your blister until it’s healed.’
4. SPRAINS, FRACTURES, BROKEN BONES
Responding to the reports, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons has issued official guidance on how to stay safe while playing.
‘We love that these games are bringing children and adults outdoors and encouraging exercise,’ Dr Alan Hilibrand said.
‘But we also want everyone to be mindful of their surroundings as they enjoy this activity.
‘Walking while looking at your phone or electronic device can result in sprains, broken bones, and other serious, even fatal, injuries.’
As people pelt about the streets, they aren’t looking around them – leaving them open to accidents
Keep your eyes on your surroundings instead of your phone when you cross into traffic or enter an intersection.
Be careful when you cross streets and wait for a traffic light if possible.
Watch for cars and bikes.
When you reach a curb, look up. Don’t look down. Use the same level of caution when you’re in the middle of intersections.
Watch out for other people
Stop and get out of the way of other pedestrians if you need to use your cellphone or talk to the person next to you.
If you’re wearing headphones, set the volume low enough so you can still hear traffic and things around you.
5. MENTAL HEALTH
People who are certified as addicts display a level of behavioral issues that severely impact on their life and the people around them. Many psychologists warn games like Pokemon Go can have such an affect
Following its release, psychologists rushed to praise the benefits of Pokemon Go, helping people to get outside and interact.
But many have also warned that the game is incredibly addictive, fueling other kinds of mental health issues.
The American Society of Addiction Medication describes addiction as ‘a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.’
People who are certified as addicts – to a substance or activity – display a level of behavioral issues that severely impact on their life and the people around them.
The slogan for Pokemon Go (‘Gotta catch ’em all!’) has turned the app into the most popular game on Android and almost the most popular game on iOS in just one week.
If you’re playing at work, playing instead of socializing, playing until you fall asleep, and playing as soon as you wake up, that can be classed as verging into the realm of addiction.
Experts advise setting an alarm to limit your time on the game, making plans with friends that don’t involve your phone, and leaving your phone charger at home.
AND HOW IT DOES HELP YOUR HEALTH …BY GETTING YOU MOVING
Pokémon Go is good for your health, according to scores of excited psychology and fitness experts.
The app has captured the fascination of millions since its launch last week.
Just days old, it is already bigger than Tinder and has overtaken Twitter on Android.
And for all the people that cannot tear themselves away from the game, there’s some good news: it could be your new workout.
Spike! Cardiogram released this graph showing the clear uptick in movement since Pokemon Go’s release
‘I think it’s an exciting development,’ J Graham Thomas, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Miriam Hospital’s Weight Control Research Center, told Daily Mail Online.
‘For a long time, the technology and gaming industries have been associated with a decrease in physical activity and that has resulted in a lot of health problems.
‘To see technology and gaming changing in a way that promotes physical activity and being around other people is really good.’
Dr John Grohol, founder and head of mental health network Psych Central, branded it revolutionary.
‘I’ve ever seen anything like that,’ Dr Grohol said.
‘Research has long shown the benefits of simple exercise on improving mood.
‘The developers behind Pokémon Go didn’t mean to create a mental health gaming app. But they’ve done so, and the effects seem to be largely positive.’
Although Pokémon Go is not the first augmented reality game, it is certainly the first to take off.
And results have already begun to show.
Cardiogram, the fitness tracker app made for the Apple Watch, has recorded a clear uptick in movement since Pokémon Go’s release.
FitBits also recorded a spike, and millions of users are posting on Twitter about their physical escapades.
Though these data only account for a specific group of users who have an Apple Watch, downloaded Cardiogram, or bought a FitBit, it is an indicator of the hype – and the increased movement.