Pokémon Go & Social Anxiety

Pokemon Go

Pokémon Go is the new game from Nintendo and Niantic. This location-based augmented reality game, designed for cell phones, allows the players to capture, train and battle the virtual Pokémon characters that appear in real world. Players must walk around in their cities to move their avatar in the game and interact with other players in real world.

Since its release in the first week of July 2016, it has been reported that Pokémon Go motivated few individuals who suffer from social anxiety to get out of their homes and interact with other players in the real world. Social anxiety is the fear of being judged by others for mistakes you might make in public or the fear of being scrutinized for your flaws. This causes them extreme anxiety. In order to protect themselves socially anxious people avoid social situations.

However with the help of Pokémon Go, these people have been able to expose themselves to social situations despite of their fear. Avid players of this game who suffer social anxiety say that they get distracted by the game and feel less anxiety. However, as one girl explained, she dreads the idea of interacting with another player in the real world. Staring at the screen of their smartphone and following an avatar is something most anxious people can do. What may become a real challenge is when they have to meet another human being and talk with them.

Although this game has helped some anxious individuals to get out, it is not the solution. The main reason is that people with social anxiety need effective resources to face and overcome the real causes of their anxiety.