Experts are growing concerned about the impact of the metaverse on mental health.
As technology giants continue to build their meta-universe platforms, many questions arise about the future of our mental health.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long talked about his plans for the “metaworld” – a virtual world that includes games, social networks, augmented reality and cryptocurrency.
“The metaworld is the next evolution of social communication,” Meta wrote on a web page that also features a 13-part audio series detailing Zuckerberg’s vision of digital space.
It looks like this “evolution” is already happening, as companies like Microsoft, Apple and Nvidia are already laying the groundwork for decentralized cyberspace.
Now experts are seriously considering how Zuckerberg’s plans for the future will affect the mental health of people, some of whom are already heavily integrated into the online world.
There is controversy among experts
In the past, technology and mental health experts have been concerned about most new technologies and how they will affect our lives.
Today, many experts say these fears were unfounded because factors such as genetics and socioeconomic status are more important to human well-being, according to The Wall Street Journal.
They argue that the metaworld will also be easily integrated into our lives.
However, others disagree, saying that the concept of the metaworld is not only revolutionary, but also unexplored territory, which will certainly create some problems.
The debate is far from over, but here are some experts.
Science has concrete evidence linking the overuse of digital technology to certain mental health issues such as depression, psychosis and paranoid ideas, according to a peer-reviewed article in Psychology Today.
Spending a lot of time in a digital environment can also lead to someone preferring virtual reality space.
“It can negatively affect our ability to live a virtual life, whether it’s self-confidence, belonging or social anxiety,” said Rachel Covert, research director at Take This, a nonprofit mental health organization in the video game community. Wall Street Journal.
Similarly, Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Laboratory of Virtual Human Interaction at Stanford University, noted that there can be problems when people spend a lot of time “in a world where everyone is just perfect, beautiful and perfect.”
Nick Allen, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, said the question shouldn’t be how much time people spend on the metaworld.
Instead, he says, it is more important to look at whether the time spent in the metaworld contributes to or hinders a person’s mental health.
“A young person who can be LGBT and who finds online a context in which they can feel a sense of social support – we believe this will benefit their mental health,” Allen said.
“On the other hand, if the use of meta-universe technologies replaces non-online behaviors that are healthy and conducive to mental health, such as appropriate exercise, real-life relationships, healthy sleep, time spent in the natural environment, then they may be harmful. ”
Many experts believe that the metaverse can have a positive effect on people – that is, with healthy use.
Dr Daria Kus, head of the research group on cyberpsychology at the University of Nottingham Trent, told Dazed: “We know that certain formats of psychotherapy, particularly virtual reality therapy, can be fantastic tools to help people with various phobias.”
Mental health problems, such as depression, psychosis, drug addiction, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, can be addressed through the metaworld, “gradually exposing [people] to a stimulus that causes fear or trauma in a safe space (such as a virtual environment), ”Dr. Kus added.
Anna Bailey, Ph.D., a Ph.D. at York University who researches mental health cultures on social media, echoed Dr. Cusa’s sentiments.
“The interactive nature of the metaworld can provide another arena for online therapy that can even improve access to therapy for people with disabilities with the best, more like life.”
However, she also noted that the metaworld “is likely to further divide people in their access to technology and therapeutic support”.
“Mental health treatment instantly available in the metaworld is likely to benefit people who already have access to it.”
Peter Atchels, a professor of psychology and scientific communications at Bath Spa University, told the Wall Street Journal that he believes the metacosm can become “a huge force for good in terms of communication” if developed ethically.
And while he acknowledged that things could go wrong, he thinks we can miss a “huge opportunity” if we focus only on the negatives.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and was played here with permission.