child safe using VR

What Age is Safe to Play VR?

There really isn’t a clear answer here because scientific research on the subject is scarce for a multitude of reasons. First, the technology is so new that there isn’t enough real-world data for experts to draw any conclusions on what outcomes there are– if any. Secondly, there are ethical and regulatory barriers because experimenting on children comes with its own set of concerns.

 

The best place to look is at the manufacturers themselves, which, unfortunately, doesn’t provide a clear answer either. But here are the recommended ages based on what some of the more popular VR headsets say:

  • PlayStation VR: Ages 12 and up;
  • Google Daydream View: Ages 12 and up;
  • Samsung Gear VR: Ages 13 and up;
  • Oculus Quest: Ages 14 and up;
  • HTC Vive: no specific age but recommends children shouldn’t use it;
  • Google Cardboard: Google suggests their product should be only used under parental guidance.

 

As you can see, none of the companies listed have a clear age where it’s “okay” for children to use a VR headset. But there’s one commonality: the child should be a teenager or close to teen age before engaging with VR headsets.

Are There Any Negative Consequences with Virtual Reality for Kids?

As previously stated, there is little study on the subject, but many parents and experts are concerned about VR and its impact on children. Specifically, the effects it has on developing brains and their vision. Let’s take a closer look at each one individually.

VR and Developing Young Minds

While there haven’t been any concrete studies on VR and children’s brains, there is some evidence that it can impact the way neurons behave under the effects of virtual reality. A study conducted at the University of California found that rats subjected to VR had more than 50% of the neurons shut down– specifically in the area that deals with spatial reasoning. Of course, rat and human brains are completely different. However, it’s enough for many experts to believe it warrants more research into the topic.

Even though young minds are very susceptible to changes and there’s a greater risk for long-term physical and behavioural changes, it doesn’t necessarily mean VR is dangerous for children. It only means there needs to be more definitive research to fully understand what problems there could be.

Kids using VR develops young minds
VR effects on vision

Another issue that is often brought up is virtual reality eye strain. We all remember being told that sitting to close a TV will ruin our eyesight, and that’s essentially what a VR headset is– a small screen literally smack-dabbed right in front of your eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology, on the other hand, clearly states that prolonged screen watching will not cause permanent eye damage.

Having said that, there may be eye strain as a result of the person not moving their eyes or blinking. But there is an easy solution: remember to blink and take a second or two to look away and shift those eyes every now and again.

What are the Pros of Virtual Reality?

Now that we’ve covered the “concerns” of virtual reality (remember, the verdict is still out on those), let’s delve into some of the advantages we’ve seen when children get to use VR headsets.

  • VR makes learning engaging and fun: Children are notorious for their short attention spans and ability to be easily distracted. The nature of VR requiring full immersion makes the child more likely to engage with learning material, as well as making the experience more fun for them.
  • Children become more motivated: Another benefit of VR is they’re simply cool and fun, which entices the child to be more motivated, especially in a learning environment.
  • VR improves their academic performance: When you combine the two benefits above, it leads to overall better academic success for children.
  • VR lowers stress, depression, and anxiety: Simply put, when children have more fun, they are happier and deal with these negative effects less.
  • VR improves motor skills: VR games are very physical which translates to the child increasing their overall mobility and fine motor skills.

 

All in all, there’s not enough research to definitively say either way whether VR is dangerous for kids. The overall decision lies with the parent, and they will need to do further research before coming to a conclusion if VR is right for their child.

In conclusion

As you can see, VR has amazing potential to create a more immersive, productive and enjoyable workspace. 

If you are looking for remote virtual solutions, reach out to our team. Let’s chat.