Social Virtual Reality as a Mental Health Tool: How People Use VRChat to Support Social Connectedness and Wellbeing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

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255 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Social virtual reality (VR) platforms have increased in popularity with many people turning to these platforms to experience social connection, including a rapid influx of users during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there is limited understanding of how people appropriate and use emerging social VR applications to actively support their mental health and wellbeing in daily life. Through an online questionnaire and exploratory interviews conducted within the social VR app VRChat during the COVID-19 pandemic, we document how social VR is being used explicitly as a mental health support tool. Participants reported positive wellbeing benefits, mostly attributed to the anonymity provided by avatars and perceived safety within digital worlds and communities of practice. We also report how people use social VR to practice social interaction, reduce negative thoughts and form strong social bonds and connections with others.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2023 - Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
ISBN (Electronic)9781450394215
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2023
Event2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2023 - Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 23 Apr 202328 Apr 2023

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings
PublisherACM
ISSN (Print)2159-6468

Conference

Conference2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2023
Country/TerritoryGermany
CityHamburg
Period23/04/2328/04/23

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 ACM.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Mental health
  • Social VR
  • VRChat

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