How apps like Pokémon Go increase activity in children’s activity

Making exercise fun with games such as Pokémon Go could improve activity in children, according to a study published in JMIR Serious Games.

Increasing physical activity by children can be tricky in the digital age, but gamifying fitness could improve physical exercise by incentivizing it for children. In this study, researchers gauged parents and children when using the Pokémon Go app to provide insights into what aspects of gamification improve activity in children.

Pokémon Go has increased activity by players, but exactly how remains unknown. Researchers in this study enrolled eight families, including nine parents and 13 children, into focus groups analyzing the content of the app and how these factors could be applied to future technologies.

Results uncovered themes in how Pokémon Go was successful in promoting activity and maintaining high levels of play time. Theses factors focused on the ideas that exciting adventures, concerns about safety and a sense of teamwork are key in understanding how apps like Pokémon Go achieve high rates of playability while increasing activity.

“Components from Pokémon GO could enhance the efficacy of physical activity interventions. Cooperation and exploration are aspects of the game that preferably could be transferred into interventions aimed at promoting children’s physical activity,” concluded first author Anna-Karin Lindqvist, PhD, and colleagues.