Virtual Reality and Kids- Are VR Headsets Safe for Children?

Virtual Reality or the VR is one of the technologies which you might have heard is gaining popularity these days. Experience the virtual reality world is really simple. You will have to wear a headset which is responsible for recreating a virtual environment in which you can look 360 degrees around. You can hear sounds, move your hands and feet and will feel to interact with the virtual world. But, is the technology safe for children? Let’s know.

VR Headsets and Kids Compatibility

Virtual Reality for Kids

The VR headsets have different compatibility ranges with respect to the ages of the children. For example, the Oculus Rift and the Samsung’s Gear VR headsets are recommended for the children of age group 13+. On the other hand, Sony PlayStation VR is recommended for children of ages 12+. HTC Vive is never recommended for the children. According to HTC, young children should not be allowed to use VR headsets. But Google says children should use these headsets under adult supervision. Now, clearly you can see that different company explain little for these recommendations on ages, but what does science say?

Virtual Reality and Brain Development

In a 2014 study on rats by the researchers at the University of California, it was that the neurons in the brain area related with spatial learning behaved completely differently in virtual situations compared within genuine ones, with the greater part of the neurons closing down while in VR. What this implies for humans, yet the researchers said it featured the requirement for more research on the long-term impacts of virtual reality.

Science says that VR headsets could have an ever-larger impact on the development of brains in children. The main point is that prolonged exposure with VR headsets which are improperly fitted to the children can incur damage. Now that does not mean VR headsets are unsafe for children, but the safety depends on the device type, type of content and the time spent on it.

VR and Vision

The vision of the kids as a result of the impact of VR technology is one of the biggest concerns. You must have seen that most of the parents tell their kids not to stare at a screen for too long, which can make their eyes go square. But scientifically, there is no evidence of the fact that long exposure to screens can cause permanent damage to the eyes.

But another issue with VR headsets is the alleged vergence-accommodation conflict. When you normally see the surroundings, your eye first focuses the eyeballs, which is called vergence. After that the eyes focuses the lenses, that’s accommodation- on the object, and afterward, these two procedures are coupled to make an intelligible picture. The VR headset of the modern age gets the illusion of depth by presenting each of our eyes with the slightly different image on a flat screen. This clearly means that this doesn’t matter that how far away is the object, the eye remains focused on one point, but the convergence is something in the virtual distance. Now, this can have some adverse effects such as headaches or eyestrain, but it is not proved yet.

VR Safety Unclear for Kids

The answer to the point that whether VR technology is safe for children or not is still unclear. There are obvious ethical reasons for which it becomes very much difficult to do research on the matter using children as subjects. According to a few scientists, the biggest concern with the virtual reality is the effect on the psychological development of children. We all know that young aged children have difficulties in differentiating reality from fantasy; therefore putting them on VR headsets can have more adverse effects. At this point, all I can say is that safety depends on the parents. It’s the job of the parents to keep control on the usage of VR headsets for their children so that it does not have negative impacts in future. The VR technology is good as well as bad, which totally depends on the situation created.

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