What are the risks of virtual reality?

Some adverse effects of VR include fatigue, headaches, eyestrain, and shoulder pain
A VR headset that has negative side effects. — Canva
A VR headset that has negative side effects. — Canva

While some employers are eager to replace computer monitors with virtual reality (VR) headsets, the risks associated with their usage are still unclear.

Some adverse effects of using virtual reality, such as fatigue, headaches, eyestrain, and shoulder and neck pain, are well-known to employees who spend their workdays in front of computers.

However, the nature of VR creates new potential pain points, like nausea, vertigo, disorientation, and increased muscle soreness.

Too much information can overwhelm users, and abrupt or severe stressors (such as loud noises made while speaking in front of a virtual audience) can impair focus and memory.

Many factors can affect the frequency and severity of these side effects. Some of these characteristics relate to the virtual environment content – for example, how complicated the scene is or the way VR reproduces user movements.

Others have more to do with the user, such as age or how long they’re immersed in the VR simulation.

Why it matters?

80% of VR users report mild to severe short-term side effects, according to studies. The inability to perform simple tasks like reading and writing emails efficiently can be caused by symptoms.

However, several massive tech companies, such as Microsoft and Meta, are pushing virtual reality as the workplace of the future.

However, to protect employees, employers must have a deeper comprehension of the drawbacks of virtual reality.

What’s next?

Some government organisations, both in the US and abroad, have already begun to identify safety concerns and propose guidelines for mitigating the side effects of VR.

Even though scientists can pinpoint important variables, we still don't fully know which ones or how strongly they are connected to particular adverse effects.

Though the list of symptoms has some repetition, researchers believe that certain traits are linked to multiple VR side effects.

The following are a few drawbacks of virtual reality:

Drawbacks of VR: Health Concerns: Extended use of VR can lead to eyestrain, headaches, and discomfort, especially for those with pre-existing vision issues.

Cost: High-quality VR equipment can be expensive, making it inaccessible to many people.

Technical challenges: Setting up and maintaining VR equipment can be complex, and technical issues can hinder the user experience.

Realism vs. discomfort: Extremely realistic VR experiences might be unsettling for some users, causing discomfort or distress.

Limited physical activity: Many VR experiences are sedentary, potentially contributing to a more sedentary lifestyle.