Cybersickness Is A Real Thing, And It's Not Going Anywhere — Here Are Some Ways To Handle It
"It is definitely going to impact people who are just a little bit more susceptible to that screen fatigue and are not taking the steps to protect themselves."
On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed cybersickness and how to combat it. You can listen below or scroll down to read some highlights from the interview!
So let's dive right into it! Recently we talked to Mic contributor Angelica Jasper about her article on the evolution of cybersickness and how people can lessen its effects. Here's some of what we learned:
BuzzFeed Daily: So, you know, as I learned from your piece, a lot of us are basically setting ourselves up for a perfect storm of cybersickness all day long. Could you kind of give us a baseline understanding of cybersickness and what types of symptoms people experience through just everyday devices?
Angelica Jasper: Yeah, so cybersickness is very similar to motion sickness. You're going to experience these symptoms just in the absence of physical motion. So when we're talking about cybersickness, it falls into three major categories. We have nausea symptoms: things like upset stomach; burping; discomfort, ocular motor distress: things related to your eyes, like blurred vision; eyestrain; difficulty concentrating, and you're just general disorientation. And so those are what we're going to be seeing with cybersickness in general. And we're talking about everyday cybersickness issues from things like computer use, phone use. You're going to see a lot of those eye symptoms so particular that eye strain, headaches, and visual fatigue that we're all probably experiencing a lot of right now.
BuzzFeed Daily: So I'm guessing the answer is an overwhelming yes, but has the past year contributed to an uptick of this affliction due to so many people working from home?
AJ: I would guess a strong yes. We're replacing our in-person meetings, you know, talking in the office, maybe collaboratively working on things with at-home screentime. And so we're just going to be seeing more and more people using it. Ergo, we're going to have a higher level of that cybersickness given just pandemic craziness and everything.
BuzzFeed Daily: These symptoms seem pretty basic and benign on paper. I mean, still not great. Do we know any lingering or long-term effects that this might have?
AJ: Yeah. So this really kind of depends on the individual and what type of device you're using. You're going to maybe have some headaches that go on, definitely eye strain. Something that happens to me, and you might experience this also, is after you've had a day where you've been really focused on the computer, maybe been really working on a document, things like that, even when you step away from that computer, your eyes hurt, it's hard to focus on another screen, and your day is kind of shot. So we do see some of these symptoms that linger on and can really affect you and how you feel for the rest of the day. Now, if we're talking about other types of devices, sometimes those symptoms can last longer. But it is definitely going to impact people who are just a little bit more susceptible to that screen fatigue and are not taking the steps to protect themselves.
BuzzFeed Daily: Okay, so if we are experiencing cybersickness, what kinds of basic things can we do to offset this once we start to feel the symptoms?
AJ: I will say with your conventional screens, like your phone [and] computer, taking breaks is going to be one of your biggest friends. Usually if you can take a break before you're really starting to feel that eye strain and that headache, that's going to do you a lot of good. So step away for five, 10 minutes and just give your eyes a rest. Something that I also really like to use are blue light glasses that help with the eye strain of the blue light that's emitted from your screens. And then also if you are able to kind of zoom in on your screens a little bit so your eyes aren't as strained looking at them, that will really, really help. I always say also, though, the biggest thing to help is going to be taking your breaks. You kind of recommend you take at least a 10-to-30 minute break every so often to help with those symptoms and really reset your system.