Virtual Reality Worlds = Serious Addiction Problems?

If you’re involved in any way with teens using the Internet, you probably will want to take a look at this new survey conducted by Pew Internet & American Life Project on the future of the Internet in 2020. 742 respondents were asked to agree or disagree with a set of eight scenarios. Top leaders, activists and commentators were chosen to participate in this web-based survey.

While each of the eight scenarios could impact the next generation, the one about virtual reality peeked my interest. Participants were asked to respond to whether vr will lead to more productivity or serious addiction problems.

The respondents reactions were interesting-especially on p.55 about concerns toward youth culture and vr:

“take a close look at finding ways to provide guidance to young
people as they create their alternate, online personalities.”

or

“Addiction to chat rooms and online gaming worlds is already emerging as an issue. Recent research has highlighted for example, how teenagers’ ability to learn during school hours is being impacted by a lack of sleep – caused by late-night SMS/chat sessions. There is a real risk that some people will become ‘lost’ to virtual worlds.”

Discussions of what vr even is, and comparisons to books, television, and film are also made. A KidZone/Teachers guide regarding the future and history of information sharing can be found here.

What do we think of these predictions? Should we be concerned?

Here are two other recent articles on the addiction of video games. From Business Week Online: It’s Addictive! Or is It? and a preview from the New Scientist; Hooked, Why Your Brain is Primed for Addiction.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.
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One Comment

  1. Jami Schwarzwalder [Member]

    I am a gamer and Millennial, and I do not think online worlds are as addictive as drugs or alcohol. Some of the problems are that the online worlds are extremely fun, more fun than school. I know that teens have always found ways to not get enough sleep, whether drag racing, partying, or gaming, their is more to the not paying attention in school than the addictive nature of games.

    I learned that most things are neutral-TV, video games, even school. It can be used for good, or it can be used for bad. Like censoring a book, it is impractical to remove something because of its negative potential.

    I want to learn though how to help teens find their way to discovering their own truths. Parents and Politicians have specific positions, but what happens to the teens. I know that when my mother told me not to read fantasy “because reading it would imply that witchcraft was acceptable” I just hid it from her. (I have talked with her now about it though)

    On one level, I would much rather teens sneak video games than crack, but ultimately as a librarian isn’t it our job to provide access to information? For both teens and parents? This sounds like a great topic for a TAG group to present to parents and the community.

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