Disadvantages

Not everyone is sees virtual worlds in education as a positive thing.  Many people today are worried that spending extended periods of time looking at computer screens and other electronic devices is bad for your vision (American Optometric Association) and it is also bad for your attention span (Sigman 2008).  The American Optometric Association has found that people may develop Computer Vision Syndrome from training their eyes on computer screens. Computer Vision Syndrome occurs because our eyes have to work harder when we are looking at at computer screen; some symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome can cause headaches, dry eyes, and eyestrain, as well as blurred vision (American Optometric Association).  These symptoms can be long lasting and can cause users to lose their eye sight at an earlier age.

Another result of spending so much time attached to the computer is a diminished attention span.  Sigman (2008) talks about how people today are perpertually multi-tasking: making calls, surfing the web, playing games, watching TV, doing homework; trying to do more than one of these things at once tends to not be very effective and leads to activities taking longer and more mistakes being made in the process.  Sigman (2008) notes that many adults today think that this early exposure to multi-tasking is helping kids prepare for their future and the “real-world,” however this is not the case.  What multi-tasking at such an early age is really leading to is children with shorter and shorter attention spans (Sigman 2008).  

Both of these topics, computer screens effecting vision and video games effecting attention span, relate to virtual worlds in education because taking part in the educational opportunities available through Second Life involve spending more time on the computer and being submersed in a video game setting.  Today, most classes (disregarding computer and online courses) are a time that students can walk away from their computers and electronic devices be present in the physical world.

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