Metaverse technology has been around for a while. But infrastructure and general purpose platforms are still in their infancy. As such, it is difficult to determine the mental health implications of the metaverse. However, it’s never too early to start a conversation about the impact of the metaverse on mental health.
Basically, the metaverse is a change in the way we interact with technology. If we think of the Internet as two-dimensional, we can think of the metaverse as three-dimensional. It is an engaging experience through the use of digital selves or avatars. The metaverse can include the use of augmented reality and / or virtual reality. It allows users to be “inside” the Internet, interacting digitally with other individuals, objects, resources and environments.
As with any technology, there is sure to be a wide range of mental, physical and emotional benefits in the future of the metaverse. But there will also be negative side effects. Addiction to the metaverse is undoubtedly one of the most feared problems.
What can we speculate about metaverse addiction and its mental health implications?
Of course, metaverse technology has many advantages. But it can also lead to addiction and mental health problems. This has recently been highlighted in undisclosed social media documents relating to social media platforms. A Facebook whistleblower working on the metaverse warned him this technology would be very addictive.
Furthermore, research has shown that the internet, video games and social media in particular, can cause or aggravate mental health problems. To mention just anxiety or depression, attention deficit disorder, eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder. Plus, they can be addictive.
The metaverse and the brain
In addition, they stimulate addictive substances and addictive behaviors the region of the brain responsible for pleasure. By stimulating the release of “feel good” neurotransmitters such as dopamine, the brain begins to do so. associate these substances or behaviors with feelings of pleasure. Through repetition, the brain and the individual begin to rely on this experience to feel good. In other words, the individual has built an addiction and he became addicted to it, both psychologically and physiologically.
Video games release dopamine whenever you move towards the goal of the game, social media releases dopamine whenever you receive a following, comment, or other engagement. Cryptocurrency trading and investing release dopamine every time your investment increases in value.
As for the metaverse, virtual interactions should be more intense, more stimulating and more real compared to what we are currently experiencing through our phones, tablets and computers. So it could be fentanyl in heroin or crack in cocaine. We can think about the impact this will have on addictions to virtual pornography, addictions to virtual video gamesaddictions to virtual social media, etc.
The metaverse and relationships
Social media was meant to connect us. And in many ways, they did. But we can also say that they pushed us to be more alone and distant than ever. Interactions via social media are not as authentic or satisfying as relationships in the real world.
Social media users often believe they are connecting with friends or family through social networks. But actually, I’m home and alone. Likewise, social video game experiences leave the gamer isolated without real human commitment. It is important to recognize this. In fact, loneliness can contribute to or exacerbate addiction and mental health problems.
Social experiences in the metaverse can feel more real through the use of the technology involved. But similar to current digital experiences, the individual within the metaverse will always be alone. Genuine human involvement and connection they are an important aspect of our life and mental well-being that must be maintained with or without the metaverse.
Psychosis, depression and severe mental illness
The most surprising potential impact of engaging in virtual interactions relates to psychosis. These are particularly the ones that involve delusions and hallucinations. These are not the only possible consequences, nor are they the most common. Excessive use of digital technology is associated with many mental health problems, for example somatic symptoms (6%), the Depression (4%), psychoticism (0.5%), paranoid thoughts (0.5%) e severe mental illness (2%).
However, psychoses are among the most serious and therefore to consider, especially if a company with around 1.9 billion daily users suggests switching to an immersive digital experience.
Virtual interaction can help people who experience disappointment. However, the proposed metaverse will not be a controlled clinical setting. And the help provided by these virtual environments is simple an escape from problems. In other words, they don’t provide a lasting solution. But the fact is, there is growing evidence of an association between digital use and clinical problems associated with delusions and hallucinations.
The metaverse and sanity
Using digital can lead to escape and relief from the stresses of life. However, excessive digital use is associated with many mental health problems, including irritability, stress and somatic symptoms among others.
While highlighting the negative consequences of technology, it is also important to recognize that virtual reality is being used in the treating various mental health problems such as phobias and various anxiety disorders. Technology has also revolutionized the ways we can search and access professional help.
There are virtual reality companies they are working on app for mental wellbeing for this space. Therefore, not everything is catastrophic. One thing most should agree on is that much more research needs to be done to understand how the metaverse can and will impact our mood and behavior.
A look at the signs of digital addiction
Here are some obvious signs of digital addiction:
- Using the digital device longer than expected.
- Don’t refrain from using your digital device.
- Spending too much time thinking about using digital when it’s not digitally active.
- Engage in digital use compulsively or experience the urge to use your digital device when you are not using it.
- The use of digital contributes to abandonment in important areas of life like work, school and sleep.
- Continued use of digital despite contributing to problems in your life.
- Loss of interest in social activities and hobbies that you once enjoyed at the expense of digital use.
- Use of digital devices in dangerous situations such as driving a motor vehicle, crossing the street, cooking or engaging in another potentially dangerous activity.
- you suffer stress, anxiety, moodiness, irritability, or other negative mental health symptoms and unhealthy due to digital use. You may also experience these symptoms when you are not connected digitally.
- You find yourself committing yourself the use of digital to induce pleasure or escape reality.
- Lying or hiding digital usage from loved oness, teachers, supervisors, colleagues or other people.
What if I or a loved one suffer from digital addiction?
Digital addictions can be extremely harmful, devastating mental, physical, emotional, financial and social well-being and consuming people to the point of devastating effects on daily functioning and relationships.
As such, it is important be aware of the signs of digital addiction and of ask a digital addiction specialist for help if you or a loved one are struggling with a digital addiction. If you are unable to refrain from using digital alone, take a look an addiction therapist or addiction psychiatrist specialized in digital addictions
Family therapy or couples therapy also for digital addiction it can be useful. This solution will help loved ones learn more about digital addiction and the best way to support themselves in their recovery. And what about thea group therapy or self-help groups? This method helps reduce feelings of isolation, build support, and learn about recovery tools. Depending on the severity of digital addiction, some people may benefit from more than 28 days of inpatient treatment.
Methods of treatment can include cognitive behavior therapy and other behavior modification therapies. Drug therapy may be needed to treat underlying mental health problems.
The metaverse will lead to an evolution of our technological age. It will generate a multitude of benefits such as a reduced carbon footprint, advances in medicine, immersive educational experiences And more.
However, as with other existing technologies, many are likely to do so develop a digital addiction through the metaverse. And there will be negative mental health consequences as a result of this digital advancement, as we are currently experiencing with Internet addiction disorder and other technological addictions.
It is essential be aware of digital addiction e signs of digital addiction. Also, you need to know theSteps you can take to reduce your digital addiction. The same goes for the treatment options.