Virtual Reality and Humanity
Now that virtual reality is becoming more acceptable and cheaper to the public, more people are able to own their own headsets for gaming and entertainment purposes. Now that more private users are joining the world of VR, people are starting to question the positive and negative effect technology will have on peoples’ lives. Like any new form of media, people have mixed feelings about it and want to learn more before investing in a headset of their own.
Con of VR: Gaming Addictions
The immersive nature of virtual reality can be addictive, especially for those who spend large amounts of time gaming. After taking the headset off, gaming addicts may be left with intense feelings of anxiety and tension because they feel as though the virtual world is more realistic than the real world.
- Gaming in Virtual Reality Could be the Very Real Death of You: This page has sad stories of people who were affected by the increased immersion of VR gaming.
- Four Ways You’re Probably Addicted to Virtual Reality Already: Thanks to VR technology becoming part of the mainstream market, it’s created an increased psychological dependence on technology that leaves people addicted.
- The World Health Organization Identifies Gaming Disorder as a Mental Health Condition: In 2018 the World Health Organization added “gaming disorder” to a list of mental health conditions. This page explains what defines a video game addiction.
- Video Game Addiction Statistics: Video game addiction is a rapidly growing problem that experts are still learning about. This page breaks down the statistics of video game addicts.
Pro of VR: Improving Empathy
Researchers have learned that using VR is a great way to teach empathy and compassion towards people. There are apps available on a variety of headsets where people can put themselves in the shoes of somebody else and understand their experiences. Researchers and organizations have created entertainment options where players are put in the heads of animals about to go off to the slaughterhouse, people struggling to make rent, and even coral reefs about to be destroyed. Research has shown that people tended to be more empathetic to other experiences after seeing what it was like firsthand.
- Virtual Reality Can Make People More Compassionate: Stanford researchers found that experiences in virtual reality can cause users to feel more compassion towards others once they can actually “walk a mile in their shoes.”
- Virtual Reality and Empathy Enhancements: Ethical Aspects: Researchers found that virtual reality can enhance empathy and can create good moral motivations and reinforcements.
- Can Virtual Reality Teach Empathy?: This magazine article covers several research studies about how VR can be used to help people better understand one another.
- Is Virtual Reality the Ultimate Empathy Machine?: VR makes it possible for people to see through the eyes of a stranger and experience things they may never understand in real life.
Con of VR: Increased Anxiety, Detachment, and Sadness
Your brain starts to panic after taking the headset off because your eyes are trained to expect a scene to move when it’s not actually moving at all. Users often comment that after playing on their headset, they experienced brain/hand dissociation, especially among new users. After spending so much time escaping into a virtual world, users sometimes struggle with what to do with themselves after they take the headset off.
- Using Virtual Reality Could Lead to Feelings of Detachment and Sadness: While the media tends to hype up the fun things VR leads to, it often leaves out the commonly reported feelings of detachment and sadness that make it hard to enjoy things in the real world.
- Are we Facing a Deluge of VR-Induced Disorders?: Psychological disorders due to prolonged exposure to PC use are already common and it’s expected that VR use will lead to a rise in similar disorders.
- Virtual Reality Can Leave You With an Existential Hangover: Some people report that after exploring virtual worlds, they struggle to believe the real world is actually real.
- Here’s What Happens to Your Body When You’ve Been in VR Too Long: This page goes over the after-effects of what happens to your body and mind when you use VR for extended periods of time.
Pro of VR: Treating Mental Health
Mental health professionals have long since understood the benefits virtual reality can have on patients. Using exposure-based therapy, people struggling with anxiety, depression, and PTSD can don a headset and find themselves in a virtual world. In this world, they can test their limits and get exposed to potential triggers in a healthy way while a professional is on standby to help them work through their thoughts. It can also be used to test out new therapy techniques in a safe environment.
- Why Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy?: Mental health professionals have been using VR to help create exposure therapy for patients with PTSD and other health issues.
- Treating Psychological and Physical Disorders with VR: Virtual reality can be used for exposure therapy to help therapists treat PTSD, anxiety, depression, and more.
- How Virtual Reality Therapy Impacts Veterans with PTSD: Oftentimes PTSD goes undiagnosed, especially in veterans, but mental health professionals are beginning to turn to VR to help diagnose and treat veterans impacted by PTSD.
- How Virtual Reality Can Save Your Mental Health: 1 in 4 people develop a mental health problem in their lifetime and therapists are beginning to use VR to help treat patients and help those who aren’t able to go to therapy in person.
- Using Virtual Reality to Treat PTSD: Virtual reality has given professionals the ability to treat PTSD through an innovative exposure therapy system.
Con of VR: Eye Strain
The longer you stare at a TV or computer screen, the more strained your eye muscles can get, even after only a short time. This is especially clear with VR headsets, where the screen is practically right in front of your eyes which can cause intense amounts of strain. Designers have yet to come up with a way to mimic the wide-angle view of vision, so eye soreness is common.
- VR Headsets Can Lead to Damaged Eyesight: A software developer has claimed that constantly wearing a VR headset can damage vision. The Association of Optometrists says that glasses should fix the issues as it shouldn’t be permanent eye damage
- The Effects of Reading in Virtual Reality and Other Mediums on the Visual System: Some people enjoy reading in the virtual setting, but it could cause a large measure of eye strain.
- Is VR Bad for Your Eyes?: VR is a relatively new, but increasingly popular form of entertainment and little is known about its effects on eyes and eyesight.
- Are Virtual Reality Headsets Dangerous for Our Eyes?: This page discusses the potential issues screens, like VR headsets, so close to your eyes can do.
Pro of VR: Brain and Skill Improvement
Virtual reality has been used by businesses and organizations for years to train employees to be more productive. It’s a great way to put people in immersive environments that feel real and allow them to make mistakes in a way that won’t hurt or affect people. Now that it’s becoming a part of many households, there have been plenty of games and applications designed to improve memory and learning.
- VR Improves Mental Health and Brain Fitness: VR stereotypes are that it’s a waste of time, makes you lazy, and rots your brain, but there are plenty of games and applications designed to enhance mental and physical fitness.
- Virtual Reality Boosts Brain Rhythms Crucial for Neuroplasticity, Learning, and Memory: Scientists have learned that brains respond differently to immersive environments versus the real world and it could pave the way for fixing memory-related disorders like Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and depression.
- Take Your Brain to the Gym With Enhance VR: Many games and applications have been created to help pump up brain gain while using VR.
- This is Your Brain on VR: As VR becomes a bigger part of the market, neuroscientists are working on learning about how the new technology could affect the brain.