As virtual reality technology matures, we can slowly understand its risks better. This is especially important when it comes to letting children use this new technology. New research by Stanford’s Jeremy Bailenson paints a worrisome outlook in this regard. Even so, with the right guidance by parents, there is no real threat to worry about just yet.
Keeping Kids Safe in VR
Whenever a new technology comes around, it is safe to assume one’s children will be comfortable with it well before their parents are. In virtual reality, that situation is no different. All of these new visuals and audio environments are quite appealing yet they also pose significant risks. This is especially true when looking at the potential long-term effects on children. So far, there is no way to properly determine the outcome, but new research provides some useful guidelines nonetheless.
As one would expect, VR will have a powerful effect on children, as well as adults, The brain is tricked into responding to virtual experiences which may be quite similar to things one would experience in real life. How this will play out in the long term, is very difficult to predict. Combining a developing brain with impulses no one has ever witnessed before can have all kinds of consequences.
It is also expected the avatars in VR will be more influential compared to those on TV or the internet. Depending on what influence we are talking about, this can be either beneficial or disastrous. Parental guidance is more than advised at this stage. On the flip side, it is also possible VR will improve children’s empathy, albeit there is no scientific evidence to back up those claims as of right now.
For the parents, it remains paramount to keep an eye on children even when they wear a VR headset. It doesn’t matter what type of content they are looking at, just make sure you do not let them out of your sight. Children will still suffer from health issues, ranging from eyestrain to dizziness and bumping into real-world objects. How all of this will play out, remains to be seen.
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