As virtual reality becomes widespread in society we have to consider how it could affect our health. In particular, as with any form of technology, we must seriously look at how virtual reality headsets could affect young children. Is virtual reality technology suitable for children? What side effects could it cause? Are there any long-lasting effects? This article looks at how virtual reality interacts with children, and if we are safe to allow our kids to use VR headsets.
What side effects can Virtual Reality headsets cause for children?
There is no denying that virtual reality can have side effects. Generally, these side effects are brought on by over usage – as with other types of visual technology such as TV and gaming consoles, using a VR headset for long periods of time can cause the following effects in children:
Nausea and motion sickness
The sensations and feelings that wearing a virtual reality headset create can cause sickness in children. How the lenses work to create 3D images can create the feeling of movement and therefore can bring on motion sickness.
Sore eyes and headaches
As the lens of a virtual reality headset is so close to your eyes, and you are effectively strapped in, using a VR device for a long period of time can make a child’s eyes sore and even give them headaches. Furthermore, the weight of the headset can put a strain on a child’s head and neck.
Why is an age limit of 10+ generally advised for Virtual Reality headsets?
As you can see, the side effects are generally short-lived. This is perfectly fine for adults as we can simply shrug off the effects and our bodies will recover. This is not the same for children under 10 however and the following are some reasons as to why it is advised to not allow young children to use virtual reality headsets:
Children are still developing and are thus at greater risk of damage
This is the main concern – children under 10 are still developing and their bodies can still be affected by external factors to a much greater degree than a fully grown adult. Children under 10 are more susceptible to injury and negative side effects, therefore, it is advised to keep them away from VR devices until their bodies have become more robust.
The full side effects and long-term damage to children is simply unknown
The other main concern is that we simply don’t know the long-term side effects or damage that VR headsets could cause. This type of technology is still relatively new therefore studies and research is still raw. It is simply a case of taking preventative measures with our children until the full extent of VR technology is understood.
As you can see, it is generally advised that children under 10 should not use virtual reality headsets. As a further precaution, you should always read the instructions and see if there are any warnings from the headset producer – if there is, take heed!