Most internet users are well aware of how too much online activity is often referred to as an addiction. The same principle applies to gamers, as they get addicted to playing video games. In the virtual reality, there is a similar occurrence, which goes by the name of avaddiction. This pertains to when users spend too much time in their virtual environment.
Avaddiction Should Not Be Underestimated
One of the downsides when dealing with immersive and virtual experiences is how users will often lose track of time. On paper, that is not such a big problem, yet it can also cause a disconnect between the user and the real world. Such addictive behavior can often lead to social ineptitude and other kinds of problems down the line. Avoiding getting addicted to the virtual world is the best course of action, albeit that is easier said than done.
In the world of virtual and augmented reality, getting addicted to this new environment is facilitated somewhat. Since users are free to spend time in the environment they prefer, some people may show less of a desire to return to the real -and mundane – world. It will take some time before such behavior manifests itself, yet it seems evident virtual reality headsets will be a catalyst for this type of behavior down the line. As long as VR remains a niche market, there is no real reason to panic just yet, though.
Avaddiction, as this phenomenon is called, manifests itself in the form of VR users getting severely addicted to their virtual surroundings. In some games, this can pertain to getting addicted to being an avatar in a virtual environment, allowing players to do things they otherwise couldn’t. Considering how the VR world requires player interaction, the lines between the real you and the virtual you can blur rather quickly. There is nothing wrong with liking a virtual avatar and having a good time with it, but it should never become your new personality either.
One thing preventing avaddiction from becoming a real problem right now is accessibility. Proper virtual reality headsets remain too expensive for most consumers. Moreover, the amount of available content is still very limited, making it more of a niche product. Once mainstream consumers can get easy and affordable access to VR hardware, avaddiction will become a very serious problem that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. Extended exposure to an addictive environment will cause a brain disorder sooner or later. That needs to be voided at all costs. Virtual reality can become an addictive stimulus in the future, and users need to be aware of the potential risks.
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