Pokémon still lurk on campus. Here's why you may not want them to leave.

It's not without reason the augmented reality app has 65 million regular users

In just a few months, it will have been one year since Niantic's wildly popular Pokémon GO app first launched—and then proceeded to quite literally take over college campuses

Today, Niantic reports 65 million regular users and more than 650 million app downloads for the augmented reality game, in which players wander around the real world looking for Pokémon to catch in an overlaid animated Pokémon world.

The game's popularity and unique format have made it a popular target for researchers hoping to analyze its effects. Studies have pointed to the game's effects on physical activity levels, social interaction, and even some risky behaviors.

But a new study in the Journal of Media Psychology finds that Pokémon GO makes its players happier and friendlier, too.

To conduct the study, media researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison surveyed 400 people three weeks after the game's launch, out of which more than 40% were playing the game regularly.

The survey asked respondents about their:

  • Social lives;
  • Emotional activity; and
  • Current and previous levels of physical activity.

The researchers found that the 40% of respondents regularly playing Pokémon Go were more likely to be:

  • Social;
  • Satisfied;
  • Exercising;
  • Feeling nostalgia;
  • Making new friends;
  • Feeling more resilient;
  • Deepening old friendships;
  • Experiencing positive emotions; and
  • Feeling that their lives were worthwhile.

Overall, the responses allowed the researchers to conclude that Pokémon GO players are "happier and friendlier people."

What students really want from technology, in their own words

As it turns out, the game has implications for higher education and student success. According to Keith Vejvoda, a senior director of user experience design at EAB, Pokémon GO can teach students about long-term goals, learning as you go, and even maintaining financial aid (Barncard, University of Wisconsin-Madison site, 4/12; Herzog, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4/12).

Read Vejvoda's full blog post: 4 things Pokémon GO taught me about student success


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