Virtual Reality is the new kid on the block that everyones talking about but there remains an elephant in the room that not many people are discussing: Will virtual reality have any negative long term effects on our health?
The short answer to that question is that we don’t actually know the negative effects yet and that we won’t for some time. Like with many new technologies the negative effects only start to surface years after they hit the mass market. It’s only been very recently confirmed that Mobile Phones can affect your sperm count if you keep your phone in your pocket. This information might have been useful to me some 10 plus years ago. In this instance, Virtual reality is no different.
There are a very small amount of HMD’s available to consumers currently and only a select few tech savvy people have actually invested into them. With the launch of the main stream consumer models of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive around the corner, it’s definitely a topic worth discussing. The Oculus Rift team have listed potential possible side effects which you can view here, the key ones to note are: seizures, nausea and dizziness, which may sound like you’re reading the side-effects of a new anti-biotic. Another more notable side effect, is that it may cause problems with hand eye co-ordination in children with prolonged use of the device. Are we about to breed to a new generation of children that will struggle to catch a ball? But who cares when you can catch the virtual ball right?
Another effect worth highlighting is the strain on a users eyes. Flashback to my childhood and i remember my mum constantly warning me about not sitting too close to the TV or computer screen or I would get ‘square eyes’; luckily my eyes stayed spherical despite her advise. However, it does concern me how close we will be placing a screen to our eyes and I could foresee this presenting complication with prolonged use.
This being said, it is currently believed that all of the negative side effects are temporary. However, with no real long term testing it is something worth considering and monitoring as we move into the next generation of Virtual Reality.
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