Virtual pets first warmed our hearts in 1995 with PF Magic Dogz, followed by Tamagotchi in 1996 and Digimon the year after.
Thanks to technology and the creative brains of virtual tech gurus, we have certainly come a long way since these mid-nineties inventions made their first introductions.
Nowadays, virtual pets tend to be more interactive, fun, and colorful. These lovable critters often present more intricate and detailed models and host bountiful features to boot.
You can also engage with virtual pets as you like, on various devices and at whichever times you prefer, giving them a universal appeal that is never bound by the clock.
Not to mention, you needn’t worry about these pets making messes, needing appointments at the vet, or being taken for walks – they are low maintenance and won’t ever break the bank.
That being said, the enjoyment of virtual pets can play a big role in improving mental health in the most unexpected and wonderful of ways.
Let’s take a look at five reasons why virtual pets can help improve and maintain positive mental health.
#1 – Reduced Feelings of Loneliness and Isolation
Virtual pets can be perfect companions and alleviate feelings of loneliness for those suffering from depression and anxiety. The companionship that they provide offers a special kind of reassurance, support, and even affection.
There’s just something about knowing that a sweet pet is waiting for you and can’t wait to play and spend time with you. Not only does this provide a sense of comfort, but also a boost in feelings of self-worth and purpose.
Having access to these digital pets helps to break down barriers of loneliness that some may also experience in city living situations. Many flats or rental homes prohibit owning physical furry friends, and virtual pets can help to satiate the need for a companion that can be interacted with after a long day in the world.
#2 – The Ultimate Stress Relief
Our day-to-day lives can be extraordinarily stressful. From work to school, there’s no shortage of pressure and responsibilities that can cause tension to rise higher and higher.
The good news is that a virtual pet can easily alleviate stress just through simple interaction.
Many virtual pet games feature interactive games, puzzles, quizzes, and more that are perfect ice-breakers to unwind from the stresses of daily life.
These mindful activities can help defuse the tension of the day and provide a perfect distraction when one feels overwhelmed or panicked.
#3 – Becoming a Part of Self-Care
It’s no secret that self-care is incredibly important to unwind and to just recover from the daily demands of life.
Virtual pets can often tick these boxes too, as their purpose is simple: to provide enjoyment in a non-demanding environment with those interacting with them.
After all, taking those “me-time” moments to have a bit of fun with a virtual pet and the games available on their specific platform can be a big mood booster – even something simple and engaging like playing “dress-up” with a virtual pet can give that sense of satisfaction or even accomplishment!
#4 – Sparking Inspiration and Motivation
Often, when our mental health is impacted by stressors in life, we might have a lack of motivation or a feeling of purpose. And, although a virtual pet is a low-key commitment when compared with a real-life pet, there is some level of responsibility and routine that it can still inspire.
Knowing that a hand-picked virtual pet on some level needs to be “taken care of” or interacted with often can be that motivational spark that pushes one to care for another being and adhere to a routine – all while having loads of fun.
#5 – Providing Comfort and Reduced Strain
Because virtual pets are not overly demanding or “needy”, they can provide a relaxing experience that is all about enjoying the antics of a cute animated character just living life to the fullest.
This can inspire not only feelings of joy and happiness (which combat feelings of hopelessness), but can also instill feelings of calm that can help beat insomnia or feelings of restlessness.
A virtual pet can become a wonderful part of a support system to improve mental health. From being a forever friend that is always available and ready to reduce stress, to being a source of joy, motivation, and purpose, it’s worth the time to explore which virtual pet suits your personality and preferences the best.