Children and virtual reality – the dangers of virtual reality for young people

Children and virtual reality - the dangers of virtual reality for young people


Children and Virtual Reality: A Dangerous Marriage? Virtual reality has many educational uses: the ability to travel through time, to make people understand certain things that might be boring at a child’s first sight, to satisfy their need to escape. Virtual reality can be amazing, but what about detachment fears from reality? Wouldn’t a child be too young to use such devices? We will try to figure out what VR fears for kids could be in this article.

The Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear and HTC Vive VR headsets are prohibited for use by children under 13 years of age. For Playstation VR, the age limit is 12 years. So, are these actions taken correctly?

The answer would be yes, because as a new tool, we don’t have enough perspective to realize the consequences of the device. This is a protection put in place by the manufacturers to avoid any concerns after the product has been sold.. A verb that is now familiar and understandable. Let’s now try to define what virtual reality can represent for children.

Children and VR: Common Sense Media releases full report on potential dangers

a New report just released in April 2018 By researcher Jeremy Belinson of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford, in partnership with Common Sense Media. This report sheds light on the potential risks and everything parents need to know about virtual reality for their children. Common Sense Media, whose website lets parents know if a movie or book is appropriate for their children, announces its intention to start evaluating video games in virtual reality.

And as much as we’ve been saying from the start, the report’s conclusion is that Finally, we know very little about the effects of virtual reality on children Their brains are developing over the long term. Virtual reality is still too young to draw conclusions with certainty. So caution and moderation are required.

Researchers believe that virtual reality is likely to have powerful effects on children, as they are It can respond to virtual reality in the same way that it responds to real-world experiences. Therefore, before choosing a VR game for their children, parents should consider whether their children would like to experience the real world experience.

For example, being attacked by a horde of zombies is not necessarily a very positive experience for a developing child. always in this direction, Virtual reality characters can have a greater impact (good or bad) on children of characters on TV or on computers.

Remember to study too The danger that VR video games can make children violent. Although this topic remains controversial, a significant amount of research over the past 30 years indicates that violent video games can induce aggressive behavior. If so, the effects can be further accentuated in the case of virtual reality games.

Regarding the recommended age limits by various VR headset manufacturers, the report notes that these estimates are not derived from clinical analyzes. Thus, more than 7 in 10 parents believe that virtual reality is appropriate for children under the age of 13. The important thing is for children to be able to distinguish between real and imaginary. This distinction is generally made from 5 to 7 years old.

Among the pluses, the report mentions that Students in general are excited about learning using virtual reality. However, they do not necessarily learn more from virtual reality than from traditional media.

In addition, Virtual reality can be effective in stimulating empathy among children. However, parents interviewed for the study question this belief.

to Summarizing the common sense media report, the full version available for free (in English) on the official website of the organization, the dangers of virtual reality for children are still unknown at the moment. This technology can have a powerful impact on young people, especially if they do not yet distinguish between real and fiction. So it is best to avoid violent or negative experiences.

Is it different from a book or a smartphone?

For young people, smartphone or book use can be a problem after heavy use. Only one reason for this: the need to focus your eyes on a specific point close to the eye. According to an American study, The proportion of myopic people aged 12-54 years increased from 25% in 1971 to 41.6% in 1999. The increasing use of computers, books and smartphones will be the main reason for this.

So it’s no wonder that the use of helmets with a screen installed a few centimeters from the eye is what frightens many people. But this is not the case, according to Martin Banks of the University of California, an ophthalmologist, it is quite different:

“Let’s compare a child using a VR headset to a child using a smartphone. When a child uses his smartphone, it is normal to bring the device closer to his eyes. This will focus on a very close point. You must think that with the helmet the same thing will happen because the image is also very close to the eye. But helmets have lenses in the device so that the eyes tend to look much farther away. DrTherefore, regarding the position of the eye in relation to the lens, you have to focus your eyes more with a virtual reality headset.

In short, it becomes impossible to compare using a computer screen, smartphone or book with a virtual reality headset, but this is not enough reason to declare that helmets are safe for children’s eyes. “Virtual reality headsets mean that we will put an OLED or AMOLED screen in front of the children’s eyes. This screen will produce an image that is located a few centimeters from the eye. The first drawback: the screen forces the eye to focus constantly, otherwise it sees blurry, which is a very strong adjustment effort. Children are capable of this, but this will generate fatigue and possibly, in the long run, the appearance of myopia. » Gilles Renard, scientific director of the French Society of Ophthalmology, explains.

The last point to note that would conflict with Renard’s notes, might be that VR headsets can be used to detect more vision problems than cause them. The hardware used by the helmets reproduces the current operating system of the eye by projecting an image on each side for depth management. Thus it will be possible to detect a malfunction in the child at an early stage thanks to the helmets.

Common interests of children and adults

Another preoccupation couldn’t be more realistic: bumping into the environment around you. It is a common problem for people of all ages but may be more important for the most carefree children.

More Help Possibilities

Now let’s talk about the teaching possibilities offered by virtual reality. It becomes possible to discover other places, other eras, without leaving home. An engaging way to get kids interested in some history-geography subjects, such as Edo VR showing the rediscovery of Tokyo in feudal times. But it’s not just about these topics, physics, chemistry, science, and math may benefit from it. By displaying certain information in a 3D image, it can become more readable and understandable to the user. Like big data, which is replenished thanks to virtual reality and the display of graphical data in a three-dimensional space.

We can also mention the distance learning courses that some children take. Thanks to virtual reality, it will be possible to get them to take this type of course but with more immersion that can help focus and exchange.

to conclude

The risks posed by virtual reality to children have not been fully established. There is probably a risk of short-sightedness but only time can answer this question. We hope that manufacturers will come up with kid-friendly helmets in the near future. Let’s finish with a quote from Professor Banks: “My opinion is that there are lawyers who speak more than scholars on this case. […] But never say. I won’t tell you there’s definitely no danger, because we can’t tell. »


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