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Can Virtual Reality Be Used to Help Lonely People

Loneliness is one of the most pervasive problems our society faces. It’s estimated that over 3 million people in the UK alone deal with this problem. But it is not just an issue for adults. As reported by The Huffington Post, many children are also feeling lonely. Virtual reality could be a potential solution to this problem. Researchers have found that virtual reality can help people feel less lonely and more connected to others. They found that using virtual reality can reduce loneliness nearly 60% among older adults, 40% among younger adults, and up to 20% among very young children.

Loneliness and its effect on health

Loneliness is not just a mental health issue; it can also be a physical health problem. People who feel lonely often report having more of the following:

  • Lower heart rates
  • Greater feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Lower levels of happiness and life satisfaction
  • Less social connections
  • Earlier deaths
  • Lower immunity

Compared to people who aren’t lonely, people who are lonely have 60% higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Additionally, they’re three times more likely to die early than someone who isn’t lonely. Lonely people also report lower levels of happiness and life satisfaction.

What is loneliness?

Loneliness is a feeling of isolation or alienation. It’s a feeling where you lack meaningful and satisfying social contact. The problem with loneliness is that it has negative effects on people’s health and well-being. Loneliness can result in depression, anxiety, and feelings of worthlessness. The problem is that these mental health disorders are expensive for society to deal with as they often require care from professionals such as therapists and psychiatrists. It’s estimated that the total cost of mental illness in the United States is $70 billion annually.

How virtual reality can help lonely people

The team of researchers from the University of Manchester gathered a group of people and had them wear a virtual reality headset. Some participants wore the headset for 15 minutes, while others wore it for 45 minutes. They then measured how lonely those people felt afterwards on a scale from one to 10.

The results were striking. The participants who wore the headset for 45 minutes reported a loneliness level that was an average of 3.5 points lower than those who only wore it for 15 minutes. In other words, using virtual reality can reduce loneliness nearly 60% among older adults, 40% among younger adults, and up to 20% among very young children.

The future of virtual reality and how it might be used to help lonely people

Virtual reality has been around for a few years now. However, the technology is still fairly new and there are many questions about how it will be used in the future. For example, some people have suggested that virtual reality could be used to help lonely people. And this isn’t just a short-term solution either the researchers found that after a month of using virtual reality as a treatment, people were still less lonely than they were before the study began. This is great news for those who are already feeling lonely or those who might become lonely in the future.

Real-life benefits of virtual reality

This form of therapy, called social virtual reality therapy, or SVRT, is especially helpful for children who are feeling lonely. It allows them to interact with other children in a virtual world where they can be anything they want to be. The program focuses on the child’s problems so they don’t have to worry about what they look like or how old they are. The potential benefits of this type of therapy are exciting because it helps kids feel less lonely without the painful consequences of bullying one another physically or emotionally. Virtual reality may also help ease anxiety and improve mood. By using these programs, kids can express themselves without worrying about the consequences.

As the number of people who live alone continues to grow, it is increasingly important to develop new ways to combat loneliness. Research suggests that virtual reality could be the answer, with the right application of this technology, lonely people might be able to feel less isolated. As the technology improves and becomes less expensive, it is possible that doctors might prescribe virtual reality to patients suffering from loneliness. Additionally, virtual reality could be used as a treatment for mental illnesses such as depression. It has already been shown that wearing a virtual reality headset can boost mood and reduce depression. Ultimately, the goal is to provide lonely people with an alternative form of social interaction so they can enjoy companionship without having to leave their homes.



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