Hannah Schmidtlein and Dr. Neil Peterson, Nursing Department
The purposes of this project were to assess how Pokémon Go impacts physical activity levels in players and whether it produces short- or long-term health benefits. This project was an observational study. Subjects were required to meet three requirements to be eligible: (1) they started playing Pokémon Go when it launched in July 2016, (2) they currently use a device such as a FitBit or Apple Watch to track physical activity, and (3) they began wearing the activity tracker at least one week prior to beginning to play Pokémon Go. Once subjects were determined to be eligible, they filled out a questionnaire regarding their Pokémon Go habits and physical activity. We also gathered data from subjects’ activity trackers about their physical activity from one week before subjects started playing Pokémon Go to the day they met with us to complete the study.
We planned for a minimum of 120 participants in order to achieve statistically significant results. Unfortunately, we did not reach this goal. However, we were able to make interesting observations based on the results we did have. We found that when participants were asked how physically active they were now compared to before they started playing Pokémon Go, most believed they were more physically active now. However, most participants’ step data showed an increase in physical activity from baseline the week they began playing Pokémon Go, but a decrease in physical activity from baseline the week previous to taking the survey. This suggests an overall decrease in physical activity since participants began playing Pokémon Go, but there may be other factors influencing such activity decreases.
Our ability to recruit participants was limited by the strict requirements of the study. Participants were required to have an activity tracker, such as an Apple Watch or FitBit, which they used prior to and while playing Pokémon Go. Unfortunately, not every Pokémon Go player had an activity tracker, and if they did, they might not have used it before they started playing Pokémon Go. Additionally, participants had to be able to come to BYU campus to fill out the survey, which was not always convenient or possible for potential participants. If I could start this study over knowing what I know now, I would make the survey accessible and easy to complete from any location. Participants would not be hindered by travel distance or time, and we could have extended the boundaries of our study to potentially include participants who fulfilled all the requirements.
Working on this study was a wonderful experience, even though it did not go exactly according to plan. I learned so much about how to do research accurately and ethically, both from my mentor and from carrying out the study myself. Although I failed to get statistically significant data from the study, I do not consider the study to be a failure. Rather, I see it as a great learning experience for any future research I perform