Earlier this month, it was suggested that playing Pokemon GO was actually beneficial for mental health. This is because it was found that the game forced more people to go outside and to interact with other people, which in some cases proved to be rather beneficial as it helped people get over their social anxieties.
However now it seems that we have a new argument which suggests that Pokemon GO is actually messing up our brains. This is according to Elan Barenholtz, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences at Florida Atlantic University who claims that the effect of playing Pokemon GO is similar to how drugs work.
According to Barenholtz, “It’s doing something really that drugs do in that it’s artificially stimulating your reward centers. We’re messing around with giving ourselves stimulants and feedback that we’ve never encountered before. And just like drugs, you never know where this is going to go.” So how is this any different from video games? Turns out that the inclusion of real-life and going into the real world has an impact on it.
Barenholtz says, “When you’re going out and running around in an environment and you’re getting the video game feedback at the same time, you’re now recruiting a much richer representation, your brain is now sort of falling for it in a much deeper way, even though you know cognitively it’s fake.”
He adds, “Just like illusions, you know they’re wrong, but there’s a good chunk of your brain that buys them. I think you’re going to buy them more deeply now, so that should make the reward that much more compelling and that much more addictive.” However it should be noted that his theory is only speculative as there haven’t been any studies conducted on the effects of the game, but either way we suppose playing the game in moderation is probably a good idea.