Experts predict the metaverse will impact our mental health

Fortunately, mental health is increasingly relevant and an increasingly explored topic. For that reason, experts have been studying how Zuckerberg’s plans for the metaverse might impact individuals.

Opinions are not unanimous and the debate is about whether this impact will be positive or negative.

As we know, the metaverse intends to be a virtual world parallel to the one we live in – in fact, Meta describes it as the “next evolution of social relations”. Therefore, if mental health is already a problem in the latter, experts have debated its impact on this new reality that has been developed by several technology companies, such as Microsoft, Nvidia and Apple.

Although the metaverse appears as a completely new idea, the truth is that there are those who consider that it already exists, namely in the gaming industry. Therefore, experts have studied the impact that Zuckerberg's plans for the metaverse will have on individuals' mental health, considering that some are already fully engaged in the online world.

Although there are experts who believe that the metaverse will integrate the lives of individuals in a natural way, others claim that the concept is both revolutionary and unknown, so it could pose challenges.

Experts divided on the impact of the metaverse on mental health

For now, according to an article published in Psychology Today, there is scientific evidence that links excessive use of technology to various mental health issues, such as depression and paranoia, for example. In addition, spending a lot of time connected to digital can result in a preference for that world over reality.

For Rachel Kowert, research director at Take This, a non-profit organization focused on the mental health of the video game community, this preference can "negatively impact our ability to engage in non-virtual life, whether it's self-confidence, or belonging, or social anxiety". In the same line of thought is Jeremy Bailenson, founder of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University, who considers that there can be challenges associated when one spends too much time “in a world where everyone is just perfect, beautiful and ideal”.

In turn, Nick Allen, professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, argues that the issue should not be the time spent in the metaverse, but rather whether that time, whatever it is, positively or negatively impacts the mental health of individuals.

A young person who might be LGBT and who finds an online context where they can feel social support - we would predict this would be a benefit to their mental health.

On the other hand, if using metaverse technologies replaces non-online behaviors that are healthy and supportive of mental health, such as appropriate exercise, engaging in real-life relationships, healthy sleep, time spent in natural environments, then they can be harmful. .

Allen explained.

Nick Allen, professor of psychology at the University of Oregon

Nick Allen, professor of psychology at the University of Oregon

Effectively, experts raise several questions and build multiple scenarios in order to understand the possible impact of the metaverse on users' mental health.

For example, Daria Kuss, Head of the Cyberpsychology Research Group at Nottingham Trent University, notes that “we know that particular formats of psychotherapy, namely virtual reality exposure therapy, can be fantastic tools to help individuals affected by a variety of phobias.” . In her opinion, issues such as depression, psychosis, addiction, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders can be addressed in the metaverse. This is because it allows individuals to face a stimulus, in a space that is safe and controlled and gradually.

Daria Kuss, Head of the Cyberpsychology Research Group at Nottingham Trent University

Daria Kuss, Head of the Cyberpsychology Research Group at Nottingham Trent University

Like Kuss, other experts consider that the metaverse can work as a liberating agent, positively impacting mental health. More than that, Peter Etchells, professor of psychology and science communication at Bath Spa University, recalls that the metaverse can be “a tremendous force for good” in the sense that it keeps people connected, if explored ethically.

In the future, and with the development of the metaverse, specialists will have the opportunity to study its real impact, realizing how it can harm or benefit the mental health of individuals.

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