Is Virtual Reality Dangerous?

Virtual reality

Virtual reality is fast becoming the “must have” technology for many, with a slew of new headsets and experiences flooding the tech market this year. However, there has been little discussion as to whether or not this is actually a good thing to indulge in. With all of the games and platforms coming out at a steady pace to stay ahead of the curve, no one is really stopping to question the consequences of the average person stepping into Virtual Reality for too long.

This isn’t a new concern. We have a younger generation developing a lot of this technology without much thought into the long-term effects, knowing that our addiction-prone society would take to it like a moth to a flame.

The Wall Street Journal discussed research done by Stanford University professor Jeremy Bailenson recently where he outlined his discoveries over the past 15 years. His claim is that too much diving into Virtual Reality can, in short, change you psychologically. He states that this is because the experiences can start to alter your sense of reality.

There’s also the more common effects that can even be found with short term use:

The experience can cause nausea, eyestrain and headaches. Headset makers don’t recommend their devices for children. Samsung and Oculus urge adults to take at least 10-minute breaks every half-hour, and they warn against driving, riding a bike or operating machinery if the user feels odd after a session.”

Prolonged use can also possibly affect hand-eye coordination, balance, and your ability to multitask. It’s also strongly urged that Virtual Reality headsets should not be used in moving vehicles (which could be a feasible issue with mobile-based sets like the Samsung Gear). It’s also strongly urged to NOT be used with children under 13, yet there is a heavy under-13 demographic in the gaming communities.

Some companies are calling for content creators to be responsible about what they put onto the market and ensure that it will be of benefit to the user, rather than contribute to the altered sense of reality. Considering that the Oculus Rift (which is the frontrunner in the market) was developed by a (now) 24-year-old, are we putting too much faith that youth is considering the long-term effects? Or are we setting ourselves up to find ourselves in a very gloomy future where we’re all detached from reality?

We do hear positive stories like Virtual Reality being used to be therapeutic for hospital patients and the elderly population, but with platforms like Sansar being developed in the mad rush to stay relevant….we’re bound to see Virtual Reality become something that will encourage addictive behavior for some and leave many too immersed in it for too long. So, where does the responsibility lie- in the developers, the content creators or the consumers? Are they doing enough to educate people on responsible usage here?

Share your thoughts on the matter- is Virtual Reality all that great for the general population?

Bria Oceanside
ZoHa Blogger/Social Media