“Limit your screen time.”

It’s a gentle reminder we’ve been hearing from our family physicians for years. The hours we spend in front of televisions, computers and mobile devices often keep us from using sidewalks, hiking trails and playgrounds.

But a new game for your mobile device is turning that conventional wisdom upside down. Pokémon Go, released in the United States, Australia and New Zealand on July 6th, is already dominating Facebook and Instagram feeds with photos of players capturing and training adorable little creatures known as Pokémon (or pocket monsters) in the real world.


So how does it work? It uses your camera and the GPS on your phone to map your environment and place these creatures within it. You’ll see Venomoths in your house. And Bulbasaurs on the sidewalk. And Squirtles at the grocery store. But to find them, you actually have to walk to these places. (It’s specifically engineered so that it doesn’t work great from a moving car.) And to hatch one of the eggs you might find in this virtual world, you have to walk a long ways, sometimes up to 10 kilometers.

Pokémon Go is the kind of next-level genius app we’re going to be talking about for years. Because you don’t enter the world of the game to play it. The game enters your world and plays you. It gets you out of the house. It makes you explore your neighborhood. And, in some cases, it tricks otherwise sedentary people into walking (or running) the equivalent of two 5ks in a day (and more) just to make progress in a video game.

In fact, Forbes found “Five Ways Pokémon Go is Actually Good For You.”

So maybe we don’t have to think of all screen time as inherently bad. Because you can’t play Pokémon Go unless you get up out of your chair and move. And “Move” is that other gentle reminder we’ve been hearing from our family physicians for years.

One more gentle reminder, though: Watch where you’re walking while playing. Nobody wants to see you fall into a ditch.

Pokémon Go receives the Hailey Sault “Creating a Healthy World” Seal of Approval. To learn more about how innovative healthcare providers are encouraging their patients to live healthier lives, request a copy of our latest research “Why Patients Change.”

Read the latest Hailey Sault research.