North Texas

Children's Health Benefits From ‘Pokemon Go'

On most summer mornings, 8-year-old Will Hammond, of Fort Worth would be inside, playing Legos, Minecraft or Pokemon cards, his mother says.

However, since the release of Pokemon Go, Will has been spending much of his time outdoors.

"It's so hot. He doesn't like being outside when it's hot, but now there's incentive go outside because he actually has a goal now!" Terry Hammond said.

Children across North Texas have traded in hours of screen time inside for hours of it outside and their "hunts" are providing valuable physical activity for what's been called a "sedentary generation," according to some doctors.

"Getting outside, getting sunlight, getting fresh air, being active, not being on a couch all day long, is really important for our kids," said Dr. Justin Smith, a pediatrician with Cook Children's Medical Center.

The game also seems to be providing mental health benefits.

Online are thousands of testimonials from players who claim the game has helped them overcome anxiety and depression.

Smith said the game also has benefits for families wanting to be more active and spend more time together.

"We know that if you want a child or a teenager to get out and get active, you've got to find something the whole family can do," Smith said.

Terry Hammond said she and Will walk to the Texas Christian University campus to play Pokemon Go with friends, then walk to dinner and walk home, making game night a family night.

"Just having him outside and being active, that's number one. Today's world, there is so much technology inside, now we got it outside so you're kind of getting the best of both," the mother said.

CHRISTUS Health is offering a Pokemon Go class for its senior citizens at the CHRISTUS St. Joseph Village in Coppell.

According to a press release, a group of senior citizens wants to learn what it is like to capture some of the illusive virtual critters.

"Like most of the rest of the country, they've heard the reports of people wondering into oncoming traffic or off of cliffs. They are not interested in that aspect of the game! Instead, they want to at least learn how to compete so to connect with other millennials, the grandkids or other children in their lives," reports the press release.

Health risks of the game include distracted walking, which leads to accidents.

Parents are urged to speak with their children about broader safety lessons, such as interacting with strangers.

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