I am sure you have seen the commercials for Verizon, Samsung and other Virtual Reality gear where you can simply snap your phone into a special headset that looks like swimming goggles and you are transported to another dimension. When it comes to virtual reality, there are many options. There are even some gaming consoles and computers that now support VR headsets.
The rewards nearly speak for themselves. It’s virtual reality! How many movies have we all seen with a virtual reality theme? Remember Tron? The Matrix? This is a fun, new experience that is taking the world by storm and rightfully so. It is no longer just a science fiction movie, it is here.
VR provides a brand-new way to interact with the digital world. This technology can take you to places you’d otherwise not be able to visit and allows you to interact with the environment around you. This is clearly remarkable technology, but before you take the leap to purchase for your kids, there are a few things to consider.
First, there isn’t a lot of research on health for long-term use of these devices as they are still so new and changing. Nor is there any concrete evidence one way or the other for permanent eye problems due to using these VR devices. There simply isn’t enough data yet. However, it’s worth noting that the major players in the VR field are remaining extremely cautious when it comes to children using their products. Oculus Rift and Samsung's Gear VR headsets are recommended for ages 13+. Sony's recommendation for PlayStation VR is 12+. Google’s Cardboard says their device is to be used with adult supervision, while HTC's Vive implies their device isn’t for children at all! So, best advice for now? Do your homework before investing in the devices There are a lot of options at a variety of prices.
If you do venture out and buy or subscribe to these games for your family, please be aware. Young children may fall over, trip, bump into things or even get motion sickness while wearing VR headsets. Like other games, the risk of addiction is real. The technology for some can also be immersive and be used as escapism.
The games are taking place inside a headset where it can be hard for the parents to know what’s going on. Virtual reality games are like traditional internet-connected games where the player can interact with other players. As a parent, how will you know what’s going on? You can’t see the TV or computer screen like in traditional games. Popping in and checking what’s on the screen isn’t going to work this time. Just like the VR headsets themselves, there are game age-ratings. Check them out and follow this to prevent inappropriate content reaching your children as best you can. In the end, it all goes back to communication, monitoring and common sense. So we suggest telling your children that “in the name of safety and research” you will need to try out the games yourself. Who said the kids get to have all the fun!
About the author: Ciera M. Gaughf is the education program specialist for the Center for Cyber Safety and Education (Center), a non-profit charitable trust committed to making the cyber world a safer place for everyone. The Center works to ensure that people across the globe have a positive and safe experience online through their educational programs, scholarships, and research. Visit www.iamcybersafe.org. If you have questions or topic ideas please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.