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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Doctor: Pokemon Go may help people with depression

Psychologist Dr Edward Chan says the game could serve as a distraction for people dealing with depression and indirectly help them to venture outside their cocoon.

The mobile-phone game Pokemon Go, an augmented reality game that is becoming a worldwide sensation, may be of help to people suffering from psychological disorders, according to a leading psychologist.

“It does confer a number of benefits for all sorts of psychological conditions like anxiety and depression,” said Dr Edward Chan, principal consultant psychologist at the International Psychology Centre here.

The game could serve as a distraction for people dealing with depression, to free them from negative thoughts and indirectly help them to get up and venture outside of their cocoon.

He added that Pokemon Go could possibly help those facing serious problems like phobias and social anxiety.

“It is a very good motivation for this group of people to get them back on their feet. They will start to interact with fellow game go-ers out in the open instead of being stuck at home while at the same time boosting one’s self-esteem and social skills,” he told Bernama.

Dr Chan lauded communications minister Salleh Said Keruak’s statement that the government had no objection for Pokemon Go to be released here.

“This shows that we are open-minded about new things; it also indicates that the country is willing to embrace change while adapting technological advancement and social change,” he said.

Salleh had said Malaysia had neither objected to the free mobile game nor restricted its release, as some countries might. “…we in Malaysia have not reached that stage,” the minister had said.

However, Dr Chan, who has 20 years of experience in psychology, is cautious about the negative impact of the game, such as an obsession that might result in distractions over priorities.

“So far there is no evidence to suggest that Pokemon Go is necessarily a negative thing; however if a person does get disrupted, neglecting their relationships or studies, then this may not be so good,” he opined.

Pokemon Go, released on July 6, is a “hide and seek” game where players are required to find and fight virtual characters based on real-world location detected via smartphone.

No release date has been announced for Malaysia, but it may be made available here in September.

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