Impact Of Metaverse AR/VR On Mental Health
- 15 October 2021
- Posted by: btcbros12
- Categories: AR/VR, Blockchain, dApps, Health Tech, Innovation, Metaverse, NFT, Technology
AR/VR metaverses are considered to be the future. A shared space of 3D virtual reality where people can interact, socialize, perform their day-to-day tasks, and practically live there. What used to be science fiction is now close to becoming a reality.
Companies such as Facebook are investing millions of dollars into creating metaverses. Furthermore, the entire space of blockchain gaming is booming, with developers building their own games and metaverses to facilitate gaming, NFT trading, etc., metaverses are slowly coming into existence.
Since the space is in its nascent stages, it becomes essential to address and understand its numerous aspects. One such aspect is the impact metaverses would have on the mental health of people across age groups.
This is perhaps one of the most important questions to be answered, considering how technology is increasingly impacting people’s behaviour and mental health.
How Does AR/VR Affect Human Behaviour And Mental Health?
Experts have always believed that VR and AR can affect human behaviour and mental health positively and negatively. Hence metaverses that would increase human engagement with these artificial/virtual worlds will impact our minds.
As a gaming enthusiast, I’ve followed the AR/VR space for quite some time to understand the different facets. I even dabbled with some research papers about the connection between human behaviour and these worlds.
So, according to this research paper, VR worlds can impact mental health in numerous ways depending on the type of world people engage with. Another aspect that determines how drastic this impact will be is how immersive the world is.
The more closer the experiences are to reality, the higher the impact on the behaviour of people. For instance, people with taller avatars in metaverses tend to act more aggressively than those with shorter avatars. People who might play the avatar of a cow going through slaughter might increase the people’s empathy towards the animals.
As you see, experiences that seem real tend to affect the way we function outside of those worlds as well. These behavioural changes can impact the overall mental health of people.
So the scales can tip either way based on how companies design the metaverses, their functionalities, ways in which people can use it, etc.
Negative Effects Of Metaverses
In the last few years, we’ve seen experts highlight how social media is responsible for negative impacts on mental health. Its entire model has been criticized for being addictive, inducing persistent sadness, anxiety, jealousy, and so on.
It isn’t far-fetched to think that similar models would get people to engage more with these metaverses, causing similar problems. Except for this time, it might cause them on a deeper level, based on the immersiveness of the world.
But this isn’t mere speculation since we are already moving towards that. In the blockchain space, gaming companies developing and building metaverses are doing so around games that follow the play-to-earn model.
Currently, this model is being hailed as a potential revenue source for gamers who invest their time and energy into the game. It’s being hailed as the model that will let players truly own their in-game assets such that they can make money from them.
However, the industry aims to blur the lines between work and play, which might sound great, but it can potentially cause addictive behaviour and even increased anxiety. The entire model is where gamers are made to play the main game, finish daily challenges for rewards, battle it out on leaderboards, wait to unlock items that they want, etc. All these aspects result in addictive behaviour and also anxiety. This might increase when money is on the line in play-to-earn models.
This is merely one aspect of the metaverse. But based on how other aspects and functionalities are designed, it could have other side effects.
Positive Effects Of Metaverses
It’s not all negative when it comes to the metaverses. The above was one side of the metaverse, and there’s definitely another brighter side.
Experts in the medical field have been increasingly using AR/VR for treating conditions such as social anxiety, phobias, etc., owing to how immersive those worlds are and how they can be leveraged to bring about a positive behaviour change.
Metaverses are still a little far away for the medical field. This is because experts need to thoroughly understand their effects on the human mind, how they occur, how people react, etc. There’s still research going on, and it looks pretty promising.
Moreover, if we were to speak about the metaverses targeted at the general audience, then self-regulation can help people. Regulating your behaviour in these virtual worlds, the time spent, how you spent it, etc., can keep you safe from the adverse effects of the metaverse.
On the developers’ end, the model would have to be designed to prevent these negative effects on mental health. So companies must educate themselves and their employees to understand the impact of what they create on the audience. This way, more informed decisions can be made while designing and building metaverses.
As with everything, even AR/VR metaverses have their share of pros and cons. However, considering metaverses are being called the next generation of the internet, it would be essential to show special attention to how it impacts people’s mental health. Furthermore, it’d be necessary to thoroughly understand their effects on the human mind so that these issues are mitigated in the first place.