Virtual reality games are becoming increasingly popular among kids. Regulators and researchers, on the other hand, are generally ignorant of the technology’s possible dangers. Jennifer Pavlick examines the existing data too far, highlighting possible dangers for children and play and learning opportunities. Jennifer is the editor of the Parenting for a Digital Future blog and recently finished her MSc in Sociology at the London School of Economics.
Virtual reality (VR) is becoming more widely known among children: in fall 2016, 40% of those aged 2 to 15 in the United States had never heard of it, and this proportion had been cut in half less than a year later. While youngsters find the technology appealing and thrilling, its long-term health and safety implications are unknown due to a lack of research on the technology’s long-term impacts.
Involving children in both familiar and unfamiliar situations
Learning, creativity, critical thinking, and collaborative involvement are all enhanced by virtual reality. Dubit, leading kids research and digital consultancy, discovered that both children and parents were eager to explore virtual reality. Children grasped the particular goals of VR material better when they had previously watched VR game footage on YouTube.
According to Dylan Yamada Rice’s research, virtual reality is primarily a social experience for children, contrary to popular belief that technology promotes isolation; many children were enthusiastic about multi-player experiences and social interaction. They felt more at ease interacting with material that took place in a familiar environment, such as a kitchen or using Job Simulator, or in a place, they’d heard of previously, such as Hollywood or Google Earth, where they could create their own stories.
They need more excellent guidance in new environments, with adults explaining what to anticipate and how to behave. Many people were ecstatic to flout laws or engage in ways they couldn’t get in real life.
“I felt astonished at first like I was on the TV,” as said by Saia, a student and a part time online essay writing help service provider
Risks to one’s health and safety
Although Dubit found no adverse effects from short-term VR play for children’s visual acuity and little difference between pre-and post-VR play in stereo acuity (which relies on good eyesight for both eyes and good coordination between the two) and balance tests, there are still many unknowns about the long-term risks and effects of VR gaming as young technology.
Only two of the fifteen children who used the fully immersive head-mounted display had stereo acuity after effects, whereas none of the children who wore the low-cost Google Cardboard device did. Similarly, a few people appeared to be in danger of experiencing detrimental impacts on their balance after using VR, while most had no issues.
According to a Leeds team, the pictures in the three-dimensional binoculars often forced the user’s eyes to shift direction and depth, resulting in a mismatch between focusing and eye alignment. This gives the senses a “surprise” and pressures the individual’s visual system to avoid misunderstandings. Adults have headaches and painful eyes due to these feelings in the short term.
The researchers believe that these difficulties will be particularly troublesome for youngsters whose brains have not yet formed. Since then, no one has come up with a viable answer to this problem.
Game creators have a difficult task ahead of them.
While more study is needed to comprehend the health implications of virtual reality fully, we know a lot about certain game features that can help children with their auditory, visual, and balance senses. To that aim, game developers and the entertainment sector should produce more child-friendly VR technologies.
One way to minimize headaches and tired eyes, according to Mark Mon-Williams, is to avoid displaying three-dimensional binocular pictures altogether. However, this would mean sacrificing more creative initiatives that require these three-dimensional projections. Even if it can’t be prevented entirely, designers must build systems that minimize the user’s “surprise” to minimize any negative consequences.
Sean Thompson of Dubit offers game creators advice based on his study, including the necessity of easing viewers into depth perception in the VR environment, minimizing crowded scenes to minimize headaches, and making transitions seamless to avoid dizziness and nausea. He also discusses the differences between playing on a phone screen vs. a tablet screen and the significance of creating an exciting environment for VR players.
- Games should have a visual reference point, such as a shadow or “feet,” so youngsters may glance down, verify their location, and return to it.
- To avoid neck strain or dizziness, the ‘action area’ should be limited to 70 degrees horizontally and 45 degrees vertically.
- Children should not have to reach or kneel for things in the game too often – build games with children’s dimensions in mind!
- To lead users around the VR world, sounds and signposts should be provided.
- A YouTube preview of the experience should be made available so that youngsters may watch the game and get a feel for it before attempting it.
- Children should be given something familiar to hold on to; for example, when playing Fairy Garden, they were lifted into the air by a big beanstalk leaf, which made the experience more comfortable.
- Game designers may choose to use a parentally regulated “time out,” similar to Marc Goodchild’s concept, which requires children to take pauses to prevent motion sickness and develop a healthy relationship with technology.
Parents and educators have an essential role to play:
While much of a child’s VR experience may still take place in museums, schools, or other educational spaces under the supervision of trained adults, as the technology becomes more widely available in domestic settings, parents and carers must:
- Allow children to preview the game on YouTube, if available, to ensure health and safety at home.
- Allow time for children to re-acclimate to the real world after playing, and give them a pause before engaging in activities such as crossing roads, climbing stairs, or riding bikes to ensure that their equilibrium is restored.
- After the kid has played, check on their physical and mental well-being.
Children like virtual reality for entertainment, gaming, and education, but mainly for social activities. Unlike the preconceptions associated with many technology gadgets, VR offers multi-player involvement as a means of learning.
With ways to help youngsters cope with their VR experiences and concurrent health concerns, educators and parents must evaluate the advantages against the hazards and decide whether to be enthusiastic or risk-averse.
There is a lack of regulation, and it is unclear who is accountable (the companies?) for ensuring that health requirements and behavioral and social rules are followed to ensure participant safety. The risks are borne by parents, industry, academics, and child health experts for the time being. If students needs professional assistance, then seeking an assignment writing help service is a must.