Cross Country Checkup·Live Chat

Are real-life buddies being replaced with online friendships and screen reality?

Social media has opened up a whole new world of online buddies. Now with the runaway success of Pokémon Go, are people investing too much in virtual worlds rather than the real world they live in? With guest host Susan McReynolds.
After Pokemon Go, an augmented reality game, was made available on smartphones in Canada popularity has soared. The game involves collecting fictional animals called Pokemon. (Sam Mircovich/Reuters)

Increasingly, people hang out in the virtual world of follows, likes and even captures. Are real-life buddies being replaced with online friendships and screen reality?

Guest host Susan McReynolds with a Pokemon. (CBC / Ayesha Barmania)
From drowzee in Drumheller to pidgey in Port Sydney, Pokémon GO hit Canada this week. Tens of thousands of us are out there playing the app which blends virtual reality and the real world joining millions of Pokémon gamers in more than thirty countries world wide.

According to Apple, Poké​mon Go has broken records for the app that's been downloaded the most in a first week launch ever.

You may have also heard in the news this week about a new report on Ontario teen mental health, showing an increase in depression and anxiety among young people.  And while the study doesn't pinpoint the cause as being screen time, the survey does say that almost two-thirds of students spent three hours or more per day of their free time in front of a screen and about 16 per cent spent five hours or more on social media per day. Other Canadian studies point even more strongly to a connection between screen time and depression.

There are those who say that games like Pokémon Go—that blend the virtual and real world—might actually help with depression by getting people out into the real world and connecting with others face to face.

Our question: "Are real-life buddies being replaced with online friendships and screen reality?"



Ramona Pringle, assistant professor in the RTA School of Media and director of the Transmedia Zone at Ryerson University. 

Lisa Pont, Social Worker at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Stuart Duncan, started Autcraft,  a Minecraft server just for children and adults with autism.

Clive Thompson, contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired. He's also the author of "Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing our Minds For the Better."

Links and Articles

The Huffington Post

The Pew Research Centre

The Guardian

New York Times

Other sources