Virtual Reality – The fear of spiders can be fought with a mobile phone

Fear of spiders makes life difficult for many people – now a cell phone can help. Scientists at the University of Basel have developed a smartphone app that can remove fear from those affected. Researchers reported in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders that after two weeks of using the app, people with a fear of spiders were able to get closer to a real spider in a glass case than those who didn’t use the app.

According to the study, phobias of all kinds affect between three and 15 percent of people during their lifetime. The obvious fear of spiders is called arachnophobia. Affected people sometimes have to limit themselves in their daily lives: some avoid being outdoors, others meticulously search every room for crawling animals or never go into basements or attics. According to the study, many people did not seek professional help out of shame. The smartphone app “Phobys” can be used discreetly at home for mild forms of the fear of spiders.

The app is designed like a mobile game

The application displays virtual spiders. It can only be seen from a distance, then closer, and eventually moving. If you point the mobile camera with your hand, you can use the app to place a very real looking digital spider on the back of your hand. “For people who are afraid of spiders, exposing themselves to a virtual spider is easier than exposing themselves to a real spider,” said one of the authors, Anya Zimmer. The developers designed the app like a mobile game. The exercises become more difficult on several levels. In the end, a lot of virtual spiders crawl.

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66 people with a fear of spiders participated in the study. Half of them completed six half-hour training sessions over a two-week period. Detailed surveys revealed that app use significantly reduced fear of spiders (Apa/dpa)

Frank Mccarthy

<p class="sign">"Certified gamer. Problem solver. Internet enthusiast. Twitter scholar. Infuriatingly humble alcohol geek. Tv guru."</p>

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