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Can too much VR also negatively impact kids?

Can too much VR also negatively impact kids?

There is no shortage of discussion (and even fierce debate) with regards to the potential harmful effects of excessive mobile device usage, especially among the younger demographic of users, including radiation, and less than a week ago, we even tackled the subject of possible smartphone blindness. But what about virtual reality, or more specifically, too much VR immersion or usage of VR headsets (hello there, Ready Player One fans)? 

It is somewhat cliche (and rather lazy) to just say, “It is far too early to tell.” But for parents with children who are already beginning to fall in love with virtual reality worlds, they probably can’t afford to not be concerned, at least. And the number of worrying moms and dads is already growing -- as indicated in a report recently released by Common Sense Media and a research team hailing from the Virtual Human Interaction Lab of Stanford University, it appears that 60 percent of parents are already a bit worried that too much VR usage can bring about unwelcome health effects.

In completing their report, what Common Sense Media and the Stanford University researchers did was conduct a poll on about 3,600 parents with at least one kid not older than 18 years old. The results of the survey pretty much paint a picture of an increasing population of adults already beginning to have apprehensions of what VR can do to their children. 

As pointed out by Michael Robb, the director of research at Common Sense Media, it does not help that so few research efforts have been done so far with regards to the potential harmful effects of VR on kids everywhere. Make no mistake about it, VR appreciation is this close to becoming a mainstream thing (okay, we may have exaggerated that part right there), but we know so little about its long term effects (granted, it is quite tricky to achieve just that considering the technology itself is pretty new). 

According to the research done by Common Sense Media and Stanford University, around twenty percent of parents who are based in the United States already are in a household that has VR equipment. Moreover, 13 percent of parents in America are now looking to purchase VR gear in the next twelve months. 

That should mean that less than 87 percent of parents in the US either have no plans of buying VR hardware or are undecided with regards to the matter. But it goes without saying that their kids could help change their minds. Basically, every kid in the face of the planet would love to experience VR (thanks to movies, video games, and all of pop culture). And for sure, they are hoping that their parents would buy them VR gear.

And we have not even tackled the possible negative effects yet. Some of the most commonly assumed are headaches and eye strain, due to the mismatch between viewing objects in reality versus those rendered in VR. And then there’s the content itself -- sexual and violent content are obviously something that should worry parents. We have a feeling that the list of effects will expand as VR gets more popular.