Virtual Reality Side Effects Unknown

We, Americans, often celebrate the many new advancements in modern technology. Our society has grown used to seeing so much new technological artifacts introduced into the market that when we don’t see them introduced and advertised, we tend to question the validity of the media reporting. In these past few years, people have celebrated the advent of 3D printing, self-driving cars, drones, and virtual reality (VR) goggles with much enthusiasm and hope. I myself have purchased a number of these gadgets and have enjoyed using them sporadically, especially my virtual reality goggles. I have to say that riding a rollercoaster in the comfort of your own home is both safe and fun. Here is the kicker, ladies and gents, these great new technologies have long-term side effects that are unknown to us. Let’s take the example of VR goggles.

What happens to your brain when this new technology starts tricking your brain about heights?

Many researchers are claiming that VR technology is re-wiring our brains, affecting our eyesight, and impacting our hippocampus functions. Researchers at UCLA have found that VR technology helped rats with being fully immersed in a virtual world. Repeated use of VR technology has demonstrated that this technology tends to shut down neurons and create “corrupted” maps in rats’ brains. Well, these former claims seem pretty disturbing to me, especially because being able to navigate in the world is what makes us productive members of society to a large degree. Can you imagine working somewhere in Cleveland and not knowing how to get around town? I don’t want to lose my ability to self navigate, do you?

By the way, how is that GPS technology treating you? Have you lost track of where things are in town because you are constantly using google maps? VR technology is having similar effects in that regard.

Let me say this — I don’t want to grow old and start having schizophrenic attacks or develop Alzheimer’s disease because of technology. Do you? My brain is more important to me than any microchip! Severe stiff necks and eye strain are two conditions that I wouldn’t enjoy having at age 60. Reality is more important than virtual reality.

It is not all. Optometrist researchers have claimed that nearsightedness can develop in subjects due to use of VR technologies which eventually can result in people having a higher chance to develop retinal diseases. Holy cow! Give me a paper and pencil. I just want to live in an analog world and breathe calm!  Now, with things being fair, VR technology has also shown to be a great tool to assist pre-teens with improving eye sight in England. I am skeptical about these VR benefits, I must add. Although playing a VR rollercoaster video game is fun, I have to admit that I leave the game a bit disoriented. On a few occasions, I have experienced a headache and sensitivity to light.

What makes this whole discussion pretty disconcerting to me is the fact that we cannot claim with any degree of certainty yet that these tools are really causing all of these former conditions. Some of us, teacher scholars, understand the impacts and limitations that an experiment can have on what we call subjects. I am concerned about these technologies, people. Part of why I own some of these gadgets is to better understand their side effects and point them out to you so that you at least have an idea about what is it like to use these “beta” tools. It is fun to ride a rollercoaster vicariously but at what cost? Let me disclose something to you! I don’t use my VR goggles anymore because I got sick of developing headaches. I am not looking forward to potentially develop schizophrenia! I would rather live in reality than in virtual reality. What is more fun to you?

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