Addiction – SL as the double-edged sword

Addiction is a word that’s riddled with stereotypes and varied meanings. When saying the word to someone, usual associations they’ll make will include alcohol, drugs, tobacco, gambling, sex and so on. For the sake of this discussion, addiction occurs when an activity affects an individual’s ability to function effectively in their day-to-day life. Based on that definition I’ll make two claims:

1. Second Life will cause addiction

2. Second Life will help ameliorate addiction


On the downside, it will be fairly obvious to any regular SL user that there are people in-world who have made SL the focus of their existence. They literally live it. And in some cases this will come at the expense of employment, family, friends, sunlight or pretty much anything that person may have held dear. I emphasise some cases. There is a much larger population of people passionate about SL and that’s actually essential for the ongoing success of it all. What I’m getting at is that SL, like pretty much any pursuit in life, will take its toll on some people. All that can be done about it is ensuring those people get the support they need, whether officially or through some sort of volunteer network.


On the upside, SL is already demonstrating its potential as a therapeutic agent for people with addiction or other mental health issues. We’ve mentioned the Support for Healing island before and I have no doubt ther are other great initiatives going on. At the very least, SL may provide a less harmful addiction for someone doing themselves serious damage in real life – harm minimisation is a powerful perspective in the addiction field and it could play a valuable role in-world as well.

I believe in-world counselling will become a must-have feature – the only issue will be whether it’s driven by Linden or the SL community.

Woud love to hear your comments here or on the related discussion on our forum


  1. I’m doing research on second life addiciton, it would be a great help if people would take a survey I set up


  2. I’m doing research on second life addiciton, it would be a great help if people would take a survey I set up



  1. […] 3. “Virtual World is similar to real world but offers a chance to get things right this time” – there needs to be a lot more stories on the good that SL can do. We’ve talked about Second Life’s role in addiction previously, but there’s so much great stuff happening in the education field in particular. Even with corporations, which are rightly viewed with caution by veteran SL users, there’s room for them in SL to learn how to behave ethically and with respect. Stranger things have happened. […]

  2. […] issue of Addiction in Second Life has been discussed previously, but there’s a much wider scope in Second Life for the issue of […]

  3. […] of SLOz is to discuss the wider societal issues that SL raises. Previously we’ve discussed addiction in SL as a double-edged sword in that it can both help to treat real-life addiction but also has the potential to create new […]

  4. Addiction, counselling and virtual worlds : The Australian Drug Blog says:

    […] Addiction – SL as the double-edged sword 2. Counselling in Second Life 3. Interview – Wellman and Wellman […]

  5. […] be Second Life’s year in Australia; – Linden Lab announced they were going open source; – we asserted a need for addiction services for the small proportion of Second Life users who may have some […]

Your comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Posts