I first started writing this post when Pokemon Go was released in the summer. I saw the immediate impact it had on some friends and how incredibly distracting it was.
As the weeks went by and more and more people got onto the app, the number of articles increased. It became clear that there were a lot of people who believed that Pokemon Go was helping them be more active. However, it takes about 6 months to establish a habit (read The Power of Habit) and so any data after only a few weeks to a few months doesn’t mean much.
There were even some articles claiming specifics such as “Pokemon Go helped me lose XX amount of weight”. However, regardless of the outcome of the app or the impact it had on the users, I knew that it would fade very quickly over time, just like any other video game or app does.
And now, 6 months later, it has.
The problem with spending hours and hours daily on a new video game or app is that eventually it will lose its appeal and people will be looking for the next new thing. As Philip Zimbardo talks about, we have an arousal addiction which is different than say, a drug addiction. A drug addiction is more of the same whereas an arousal addiction is more of something different.
This is having a huge impact on boys especially in health, relationships and education to name a few.
It’s important that we focus on the long term skills, passions and hobbies that will have a positive impact on our lives. If people are claiming that Pokemon Go is helping people lose weight, what happens when that person no longer plays the game 3, 4, 5 months after it’s released? We need to encourage people to get into a sport, into the gym, to take fitness classes or get into a workout routine like P90X at home. Something that will be around for more than a few months.
Encourage kids to play a sport instead of a video game.
Get into singing rather than getting into a new tv series.
If we give in to our arousal addictions, we will continue to create a society of mediocrity, a society where we’re ok with people not excelling in a field that adds to the value of the world.
What would have happened if the Wright Brothers got distracted and never invented an airplane? That would have been a tragedy. We can do better. But video game companies, mobile app companies, the porn industry don’t care about us. They just care about the bottom line. Making more money. But at what cost to us?