Cybersickness is a collection of symptoms that occur due to excessive screen activity. This constitutes scrolling on the mobile, working on several screens simultaneously, and being part of Virtual or Augmented Reality experiences. The significant characteristics of cybersickness are disorientation, dizziness, and oculomotor symptoms.
Consider these situations.
You are reading a book in the back of a moving car.
You are watching someone scroll fast on their phones.
You are wearing an ill-fitting VR headset while playing a game.
Do you know what's common between situations? You may feel nauseous, uncomfortable, and dizzy. While the first may be an example of motion sickness, the latter examples show a growing trend today, commonly known as cybersickness.
What causes cybersickness? How long does cybersickness last? Can you stop it? Read on to get a complete low down on this condition.
Cybersickness is the umbrella term for all signs and symptoms associated with computer and mobile screen overuse. Researchers are now focusing specifically on Virtual Reality sickness as immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality(VR) and Augmented Reality(AR) are on the rise, and users are experiencing discomfort due to it.
- Cybersickness does not affect all people who use technology frequently and continuously.
- Users may experience mild, moderate, or severe symptoms of cybersickness.
- Gadget users who experience motion sickness are more likely to show cybersickness symptoms.
- Some research findings also indicate that people who had experienced recent physical and mental stress were more prone to cybersickness.
Symptoms of Cybersickness
The most commonly experienced symptoms of cybersickness are
- Eye fatigue
Aside from such symptoms, research on cybersickness also found evidence that a general feeling of fatigue, drowsiness, and irritability may accompany these symptoms.
Causes of Cybersickness
Before we answer the all-important question," How long does cybersickness last?" it is pertinent to learn how it can occur. Several theories have been put forth to explain cybersickness.
Sensory conflict theory is one of the most popular theories to explain cybersickness. It attributes cybersickness to a mismatch caused between the visual and vestibular stimuli. What the eye sees and what the other senses experience are entirely different.
- You watch fast-moving images on a screen.
- Your eyes send signals to the brain to indicate movement. However, the inner ear, which manages balance and head movement, feels conflicted because there is no physical movement.
Posture instability theory indicates poor posture during an immersive VR experience can cause cybersickness.
Poison theory believes that the body sees the conflict in the vestibular and the visual stimuli as caused by a toxic substance in the body and sees the need to eliminate it.
How Long Does Cybersickness Last
If you frequently use gadgets, you may experience a cybersickness attack. It is not only a good idea to know the triggers but also to understand how long you may feel its effects.
Here are a few facts about the duration of cybersickness.
- The answer to” How long does cybersickness last?” can differ from person to person.
- Researchers believe the longer the VR experience, the greater the chances of falling prey to cybersickness.
- An immersive experience of less than 10 or 15 minutes can also trigger symptoms.
- You should be able to eliminate the signs of cybersickness a few hours after you stop using the gadget in question. Users may take up to five hours to feel completely normal and symptoms-free.
- You may not require medication to alleviate the symptoms of cybersickness; however, if you continue to feel dizzy and lightheaded after 24 hours, it's best to get medical help.
Why You Must Take Cybersickness Seriously?
Most people would not take the symptoms of cybersickness (dizziness, eye strain, and inclination to vomit or even a headache) seriously enough. They would look at it as insignificant, even harmless. However, these clusters of symptoms are not so benign and indicate a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. Not taking it seriously might impact your cognition, general health, and well-being.
Preventing and Tackling Cybersickness
Here are some simple measures that users can take to prevent cybersickness from striking.
- To begin with, shorter VR sessions can help your body and brain acclimate better.
- Taking breaks while working on the laptop or scrolling on the mobile can be helpful.
- Moving your eyes away from the screen and focusing on other objects intermittently can also help.
- Using fitting VR headsets, reducing the field of view and teleportation may also prove beneficial.
If you begin to feel the symptoms of cybersickness, it's best to stay away from gadgets and rest.
Variability in Cybersickness: Not Everyone is Affected Equally
When it comes to cybersickness, it's a bit like a lottery - not everyone gets the same ticket. Some folks can spend hours on their gadgets or in virtual reality and feel just fine, while others might get dizzy or nauseous super quick. It's all about how different each person's body reacts to digital motion.
Here's the thing: our brains and eyes work together to make sense of movement. But when what we see on screens doesn't match up with what our body feels, it can throw us off balance. This mismatch is what usually leads to cybersickness. But why it hits some people harder than others, well, that's a bit of a mystery.
Scientists think it could be down to how sensitive our inner ear is – that's the part that helps us keep our balance. Or it might be about how our brain processes what our eyes are seeing. Plus, if you're someone who gets regular motion sickness, chances are you might be more likely to feel cybersickness too.
And it's not just about your body. How you use your gadgets plays a role too. If you're flicking through your phone non-stop or using VR headsets that don't fit right, you're more likely to feel sick.
So, while cybersickness can hit anyone, it doesn't affect everyone in the same way. It's a mix of your body's wiring and how you use your tech.
Technology, particularly those involving Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, is here to stay. Companies in the business are making every effort to improve user experience and reduce the strain on the human brain, just as researchers are working actively to understand cybersickness in all its dimensions. Some people believe it is just a matter of time before our bodies and brains get used to VR experiences. Repeated and frequent use of such devices may help us acclimate better. Still, it is our responsibility to use technology in moderation and take measures to cushion ourselves against cybersickness.