Virtual reality is the next great technological advancement. Consumers will soon be immersed in worlds of unbounded possibility. Consequently, with such potential comes extreme risk. Allowing consumers to indulge every fantasy they might have within virtual reality may be harmless in the real world but it could be extremely detrimental to the individual consumer.
There are conflicting reports about the true effects of violence in video games and other media translating to exacerbating violent tendencies in players and consumers. However, the psychologists Craig Anderson at Iowa State University and Wayne Warburton at Macquarie University in Sydney have found
“The repeated actions, interactivity, assuming the position of the aggressor, and the lack of negative consequences for violence, are all aspects of the gaming experience that amplify aggressive behavior.” This research focused on traditional video games. The total immersion virtual reality allows for will only strengthen the identification and bond between game player and in game actions.
There is research suggesting that humans are susceptible to deception about their own bodies. In one study a blindfolded participant stroked a rubber hand while being told they were stroking their own other hand when, in actuality, the researcher was stroking the subjects real hand. The subject reported, and magnetic imaging of the brain corroborated, that the subject believed they were touching themselves. This was dubbed the “rubber-hand illusion” by the researchers. Anecdotally, Raymond Wong, a writer for mashable.com, tested virtual reality pornography and felt at one point “a male porn star who was thrusting into ‘me’ was so up in my personal space, I swear I smelled his armpits. There wasn’t, of course, any smell.”
Virtual reality is also expected to be a harbinger for new and more advanced kinds of pornography. Naughty America is on the forefront of this new trend. As of January 2016, Naughty America had twelve virtual reality porn videos with plans to produce at least “one to two new VR porn videos every week”, according to Ian Paul, the chief information officer of Naughty America.
Porn addiction is currently not recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Despite no official recognition by the DSM, according to techaddiction.ca, “56% of divorce cases involved one person having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.” Additionally, porn uses report severe clinical depression twice as frequently as non-porn users.
Advancing technology is inevitable. From the radio to the television to the Internet, entertainment in all its forms is constantly evolving. Virtual reality is the next evolutionary step. While this is a natural evolution, people must be wary of the effects it can have on individuals. We don’t yet know how the immersive nature of virtual reality will affect individuals. Due to this lack of information, potentially harmful activities such as violence and pornography should be restricted on virtual reality platforms. There will undoubtedly be consumer demand for these activities in the virtual reality platform and in a capitalist society, it is unrealistic that they will be totally nonexistent, so we at Honest Action posit that an age limit of 21 be imposed on these potentially harmful behavioral simulators.