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Feeling Dizzy While Scrolling Your Smartphone? It Could Be Cybersickness

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Researchers found computer-generated graphics and even smartphones can cause 'cybersickness' among users, even in people who are resistant to normal motion sickness.

Car sickness is one example of normal motion sickness that happens when your eyes are fixated on a motionless object (dashboard) but your body experiences movement. The mismatched sensation causes you to feel sick. The same sensation can be experienced but triggered in reverse in digital motion sickness.

Also called 'cybersickness', this digital motion sickness is triggered by watching films with fast-paced scenes such as "Speed Racer" in 2008 or 3D movies without actually experiencing the motion. It causes dizziness that can also be experienced after staring at smartphones or playing video games for an extended period of time. In this scenario, your eyes are fixated on something moving while your body remain still.

"Your sense of balance is different than other senses in that it has lots of inputs. When those inputs don't agree, that's when you feel dizziness and nausea," said Harvard Medical School's otolaryngology professor Steven Rauch who is also Massachusetts Eye and Ear Balance and Vestibular Center's medical director.

Past studies revealed that cybersickness affects 50 to 80 percent of people, including adults and children. University of Minnesota's kinesiology professor Thomas Stoffregen had done extensive research on cybersickness. He added that the more realistic the visual content is, the higher your chances of getting cybersickness. One of his studies also found that women are more vulnerable to cybersickness compared to men. Moreover, people with medical history of concussion or migraines, and those who are perfectionists or with Type A personality are more prone to cybersickness.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of cybersickness are usually so subtle that people often shake them off thinking it's just stress, eyestrain, upset stomach and even vertigo. Cybersickness is old news to seasoned pilots who are so used to the feeling using flight simulators. However, due the prevalence and popularity of virtual reality games and 3D images, cybersickness has become widespread.

Several technology companies such as Motorola and Apple have come up with ways to combat cybersickness among consumers. People with iPhones can tweak the settings to reduce motion, lowering their chances of getting cybersick.

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