Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that allows users to experience and interact with a computer-generated, three-dimensional environment. While VR has the potential to revolutionize industries such as gaming, education, and healthcare, it also carries some potential risks and dangers that should be considered especially with children .
One potential danger of VR is the risk of physical injury. As children are immersed in a virtual environment, they may be more prone to accidents such as tripping or falling. This risk can be mitigated by ensuring that the VR setup is in a safe and spacious area, free of clutter or other hazards. It is also important for users to take breaks and stretch regularly to avoid muscle strain or fatigue.
Another potential danger of VR is the risk of psychological harm. Some VR experiences may be disturbing or disturbing, causing kids to experience fear, anxiety, or other negative emotions. This risk can be mitigated by choosing VR experiences that are appropriate for the user’s age and sensitivities, and by setting limits on the amount of time spent in VR.
There is also a risk of social isolation associated with VR, as users may be less inclined to interact with others in the physical world while they are immersed in a virtual environment. This risk can be mitigated by encouraging users to take breaks from VR and engage in activities with others, and by setting limits on the amount of time spent in VR.
Another potential danger of VR is the risk of cyberbullying. As VR becomes more prevalent, there is a risk that users may be targeted or harassed by others in virtual environments. This risk can be mitigated by educating users about appropriate behavior in VR and by reporting any instances of cyberbullying to the appropriate authorities.
There is also a risk of addiction associated with VR. As with any form of media, it is possible for children to become excessively reliant on VR as a form of escapism or entertainment. This risk can be mitigated by setting limits on the amount of time spent in VR and by engaging in a variety of activities in the physical world.
Even though the first Oculus Rift was developed in 2010, VR headsets have been available for a while. However, research into these headsets’ effects on children has just recently started. This implies that regardless of the study on VR you read—whether it’s positive or negative—remember that additional research must be done to completely confirm the findings.
In a study of the literature published in the journal Virtual Reality in 2021, three Greek researchers assembled pertinent research. They discovered that headaches or nausea were frequent worries related to VR headsets.
Recall that manufacturers like Oculus and HTC advise taking a break for at least 10-15 minutes every 30 minutes. Virtual reality headsets might have negative consequences on your kid’s health if they are used excessively:
- Nausea: In the most chaotic experiences, motion sickness is the main cause of nausea. It may also be brought on by “sim sickness,” or “simulator illness,” which develops when the eyes and ears perceive things that other senses are unable to register. After a while, this sensory desynchronization may result in nausea.
- Epileptic seizure: Globally, an estimated 5 million people are diagnosed with epilepsy each year. In high-income countries, there are estimated to be 49 per 100 000 people diagnosed with epilepsy each year. In low- and middle-income countries, this figure can be as high as 139 per 100 000. Television and video games may cause these seizures. Virtual reality may, of course, also act as a trigger.
Therefore, producers of VR headsets advise against using their devices around those who are prone to seizures. Before experiencing a first seizure, it is difficult to determine if a person has epilepsy.
- Loss of space orientation: Users are systematically requested to designate a totally clear playing area while setting up the various VR headsets. Because there is a chance of stumbling or knocking into anything once you are in virtual reality, and the results might be disastrous. A VR headset wearer starts to lose their sense of direction in the real world after thirty minutes. You can suffer harm since you won’t know where you are in your room.
- Eye dryness and vision disorders: Virtual reality use for extended periods of time might result in dry eyes and other visual issues. For instance, it’s possible for vision to temporarily get hazy after taking off a VR headset after spending a lot of time in the environment. This sensation is comparable to what one experiences when trying on someone with myopia’s glasses, for instance. As a result, a migraine might occur. Virtual reality, according to some scientists, may have long-term impacts and affect the eyes’ capacity to switch between items in close proximity and those farther away.
The ability to distinguish between the real and the virtual decreases with age. Therefore, a 4-year-old child seeing a VR experience could believe that what he did was genuine, or at the at least, be perplexed by the circumstance; Children may be more impacted than adults by what is said or done in a VR encounter. This side is advantageous for learning experiences, but it can be risky for violent ones. Some learning opportunities are inappropriate for children (e.g. horror games). This applies to all media, not only VR because we know that it is more immersive and the experience might seem more intense.
In the Meta Quest safety center’s own words: “ Younger children have greater risks of injury and adverse effects than older users. While we know that children under 13 may want to use Meta VR Systems, we do not permit them to create accounts or use Meta VR Systems. Adults should monitor the time their teens 13+ spend using the headset ”.
In conclusion, while VR has the potential to bring many benefits, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and dangers associated with this technology. By taking steps to minimize these risks and promoting healthy VR habits, we can ensure that VR is a safe and enjoyable experience for all users and for kids mainly.
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