I’ve seen conflicting advice regarding using Virtual Reality (VR) with kids, so it’s good to see this from the LSE:
Children are becoming aware of virtual reality (VR) in increasing numbers: in autumn 2016, 40% of those aged 2-15 surveyed in the US had never heard of VR, and this number was halved less than one year later. While the technology is appealing and exciting to children, its potential health and safety issues remain questionable, as there is, to date, limited research into its long-term effects.
I have given my two children (six and nine at the time) experience of VR — albeit in limited bursts. The concern I have is about eyesight, mainly.
As a young technology there are still many unknowns about the long-term risks and effects of VR gaming, although Dubit found no negative effects from short-term play for children’s visual acuity, and little difference between pre- and post-VR play in stereoacuity (which relies on good eyesight for both eyes and good coordination between the two) and balance tests. Only 2 of the 15 children who used the fully immersive head-mounted display showed some stereoacuity after-effects, and none of those using the low-cost Google Cardboard headset showed any. Similarly, a few seemed to be at risk of negative after-effects to their balance after using VR, but most showed no problems.
There’s some good advice in this post for VR games/experience designers, and for parents. I’ll quote the latter:
While much of a child’s experience with VR may still be in museums, schools or other educational spaces under the guidance of trained adults, as the technology becomes more available in domestic settings, to ensure health and safety at home, parents and carers need to:
- Allow children to preview the game on YouTube, if available.
- Provide children with time to readjust to the real world after playing, and give them a break before engaging with activities like crossing roads, climbing stairs or riding bikes, to ensure that balance is restored.
- Check on the child’s physical and emotional wellbeing after they play.
There’s a surprising lack of regulation and guidance in this space, so it’s good to see the LSE taking the initiative!
Source: Parenting for a Digital Future
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