New virtual reality underwater game helps teens with stress

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have a new virtual reality game that aims to help older children deal with their emotions. VERA, or Virtual Reality Emotion Regulation in Adolescence, is a way for kids to regulate day-to-day feelings, especially in stressful situations.

It is an , and kids have to control their breathing as they navigate through the environment. They wear a belt along their chest that conditions them to engage in deep breathing to get them through the game.

There are stressors and spooky areas in the game that pop up, encouraging the kids to learn how to breath in those situations that they can use in real life.

“When you take deep breaths, you are essentially forcing you're heart rate down, to relax. You're helping your body to calm itself and the tension and all that going on around you to release,” said Dr. Justin Russell, a research scientist at UW School of Medicine and Public Health. “And alongside that, giving your brain feedback from your body that everything's cool, you're okay.”

If the kids are not breathing correctly, they will notice it in the game. They are encouraged to pause, take a break and then continue.

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