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The Dark Side of Media and Technology

A 21st Century Guide to Media and Technological Literacy

Edited By Edward Downs

The Dark Side of Media and Technology: A 21st Century Guide to Media and Technological Literacy is Herculean in its effort to survey for landmines in a rapidly changing media landscape. The book identifies four dark outcomes related to media and technology use in the 21st century, and balances the dark side with four points of light that are the keys to taking ownership of a media- and technology-saturated world. The text contains an impressive list of multi-disciplinary experts and cutting-edge researchers who approach 25 separate dark side issues with concise, highly readable chapters, replete with unique recommendations for navigating our mediated present and future.

The Dark Side of Media and Technology is grounded in theory and current research, but possesses an appeal similar to a page-turning dystopian novel; as a result, this volume should be of interest to scholars, students, and curious lay-readers alike. It should be the "go-to" text for anyone who is interested in learning what the research says about how we use media and technology, as well as how media and technology use us.

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Chapter Twenty-One: Dark Side of Augmented and Virtual Reality (Edward Downs / Cheryl Campanella Bracken)


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Dark Side of Augmented and Virtual Reality


In 2017, Lenovo released the Star Wars: Jedi Challenges augmented reality headset. The headset is powered by a cellphone app and allows aspiring Jedi to battle Sith Lords, stormtroopers, and other villains from the Star Wars galaxy in an augmented reality format. Reading through the user guide revealed the customary warnings associated with many interactive multimedia technologies. For example, making sure there is enough space for playing to prevent injury to self, others, or equipment damage. There was a warning for volume control to prevent hearing loss, as well as a warning for eye strain and repetitive muscle strain injuries. The guide also included warnings for more severe conditions such as motion sickness, as well as a warning for those who suffer from epileptic seizures. The one that stood out was the warning for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As the user guide explained:

Intense content, such as violence, horror, or emotional content, can cause an adrenaline response. This can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure, anxiety and panic attacks, fainting or other serious reactions. In extreme cases, it can trigger PTSD attacks. (Lenovo, 2017, p. 18)

A subsequent examination of two different virtual reality devices’ user guides revealed a pattern. Both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift manuals contained language that warned users about using the devices if...

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