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Pokémon Go and tech addiction with behavioral scientist Elias Aboujaoude

Photo courtesy of Liza Veale

If you follow pop culture at all you’ve probably figured out what Pokemon Go is. It’s a smartphone game that uses GPS to create a scavenger hunt for little creatures out in the world around you. Except, they’re not really there—they appear on your phone, planted on the screen amongst what is really there. It’s called augmented reality.

How popular is it? State Senate candidates Jane Kim and Scott Weiner staged a Pokemon mano a mano this weekend in San Francisco. In fact, it’s the most popular mobile game ever, with 26 million active daily players.


This is the latest bit of technology to capture our imagination, and take over our time. It’s a big concern for KALW’s Ben Trefny. He spends a lot of time online. And, now that his twin kids are 14 years old, they do, too. If it’s not Pokemon Go, it’s Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. It got him wondering how all this digital exposure affects us.

Someone who knows a lot about that is Elias Aboujaoude. He’s a clinical professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and author of the book "Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality." Click the audio player to listen to Ben Trefny’s interview with Dr. Aboujaoude.

ELIAS ABOUJAOUDE: They activate similar pathways in the brain as addictive substances that we may get attached to.


Crosscurrents technology
Ben was hired as Interim Executive Director of KALW in November, 2021.