Pokémon GO Within the Context of Family Health: Retrospective Study
Background: Pokémon GO illuminated the potential for mobile phone gaming apps to engage users and promote health. However, much work is needed to fully understand the mechanisms through which digitally supported behavior change interventions operate, particularly for children and families.
Objective: The aims of this study were (1) to explore the Pokémon GO user experience from a family perspective and (2) to investigate Pokémon GO within the context of family health.
Methods: Between January and February 2017, congruent with one of the largest anticipated Pokémon GO updates Gen 2, participants were recruited from parks, word of mouth, and social media to complete a Web-based survey. Participants were surveyed about family characteristics, interest, and experiences playing Pokémon GO and healthy lifestyle beliefs. Using a revised Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire, a retrospective pre-post design assessed changes in parent physical activity (PA) before and after playing Pokémon GO.
Results: Self-reported data from 160 parents and 31 children were included in the final analyses (representing 129 parents and 31 parent-child dyads). Gameplay most often occurred between sons aged 10 years or younger and mothers. “Spending time together” was the most cited reason for gameplay by both parents (122/160, 76.3%) and children (24/31, 77%), followed by “it helped me go outdoors” for parents (113/160, 70.1%) and “I am a Pokémon fan” by children (21/31, 68%). Interestingly, open-ended responses indicated that gameplay could trigger both positive and negative emotional parent response. The most cited reason for app disengagement was boredom; conversely, the most cited reason for app re-engagement was in-app events. For parents, there were significant increases in minutes spent in mild (mean 23.36 [SD 66.02]; t97=3.50, P<.001) and moderate (mean 21.76 [SD 53.04]; t130=4.70, P<.001) PA per week after playing Pokémon GO. However, child perceptions of parental influence on PA most significantly associated with parents who reported weekly strenuous PA both before (rs=.514, P=.003) and after (rs=.536, P=.003) Pokémon GO uptake.
Conclusions: Pokémon GO transcended traditional understanding of digital health and uniquely reached across generations to engage users. Findings from this study highlight that, for a period of time, Pokémon GO fostered social and physical well-being for children and families through a multifaceted approach.
Source: JMIR Publications