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22 December 2021, 16:05

Metaverse will alter definition of tech addiction


ANKARA, 22 December (BelTA - Anadolu Agensy). - The virtual universe of metaverse will alter technology addiction and diversify its effects, according to an Istanbul-based expert.

Social media specialist Deniz Unay told Anadolu Agency that the metaverse will be a much-debated topic in the years to come, leading to an evolution of our understanding of addiction.

The metaverse transforms the common smart device experiences into virtual and augmented reality through equipment such as virtual reality glasses and gloves, which will allow people to have near-realistic experiences in a virtual environment, he said.

Unay added that events such as business meetings and doctor's appointments which do not require medication are expected to find more place in daily life with the metaverse.

“In fact, we will do most of our work on the metaverse faster and with the comfort of our home or office,” he said.

Touching on the environmental advantage of the new technology, Unay said that the opportunity to perform everyday activities virtually will gradually reduce the carbon emission rate.

He stated that the majority of private cars and public transportation systems use fossil fuels, and electric-based systems may still depend on the energy produced from fossil fuels.

“Humanity needs to act immediately to reduce its carbon footprint for future generations. The first step to achieve this is to decrease the need for transportation,” Unay remarked.

Addiction, impacts on health

The expert said that people will be spending long hours wearing virtual reality glasses and gloves, which can turn into an addiction over time.

“The metaverse will not only be used for business, education, and shopping but will also completely change people's understanding of games and entertainment,” Unay argued. “In the virtual universe of metaverse, games, entertainment and dating conversations will attract people even more with augmented reality.”

Still, the overall impact of metaverse on people will be negative, he warned, citing a study conducted by the University of Leeds, in which children who used virtual reality glasses for 20 minutes had difficulty in understanding the distances of real objects as a result of a condition known as vergence-accommodation conflict.

Besides, the long-term use of virtual reality glasses within a few centimeters of the human eye will cause serious eye problems besides the difficulty in distinguishing virtual from reality, Unay added, as people will be exposed to more powerful and light-intensive images detrimental to the eye.

He underlined that the technology will also entail a more sedentary life that can lead to a range of diseases from heart failure to pancreatic problems, certain types of cancer, and muscle and cardiovascular ailments.

Unay further stated that people's perception of reality will gradually change after experiencing virtual life for an extended period.

“People will experience internal indecisions between the real and virtual world, and as a result, the brain will prefer the virtual universe more with the effect of dopamine,” he explained.

Restrictions necessary to protect children

Unay said that the positive and negative effects of the virtual universe on people should be observed and monitored. “It is necessary to apply certain age and time restrictions, especially in order for it not to adversely affect children and young people.”

He warned that certain applications in the metaverse may threaten the physical and cognitive development of children and young people, which makes precautions necessary for lower age groups.

Unay further advised avoiding virtual reality glasses or other apparatus for extended periods of time, and complying with the legal and ethical rules for applications set from the beginning.

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