While it is still unknown if there are any negative health effects for kids from prolonged use of VR, children are an influential market slowly being exposed to the technology along with everyone else.
Each of the headset manufacturers has some sort of warning intended to restrict its use by children. Interestingly however, Google is taking a slightly different approach rhetorically. Google says “Cardboard is not for use by children without adult supervision” while Oculus and Samsung warn their products “should not be used by children under the age of 13.” This is likely indicative of the lack of a definitive answer as to whether it is safe or not. It is worth noting that in an interview with Recode, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe did say that they “want to have Oculus for kids.”
Children represent an incredibly large marketplace for VR both for entertainment, and much more importantly, educational experiences. We are already seeing ‘kid friendly’ moves in the space as well. Microsoft bought Minecraft for $2 billion and used it to promote HoloLens while Disney is promoting its Miles From Tomorrowland kids TV show with an immersive VR experience. Even Oculus is funding content that could easily be viewed as targeted at a younger audience, with Lucky’s Tale and the Oculus Story Studio short film Henry.
A recent survey by Touchstone Research suggests kids are excited to experience VR too. The survey of 500 kids and teens in the U.S. ages 10 to 17 indicates most (79 percent) have heard about virtual reality. The market is still wide open though because there doesn’t seem to be a runaway brand leader.
The Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift are the most well known headset brands with 37 and 35 percent of respondents saying they know about them. Only 19 percent of the kids and teens said they knew about the Vive headset from Valve and HTC. That is well behind HoloLens (30 percent), Google Cardboard (31 percent) and Morpheus (33 percent).
The survey didn’t ask kids whether they had tried a VR headset. Instead, Touchstone showed a video about the technology and asked what they thought about it. The vast majority, 88 percent, said it was “very cool/off the charts cool.” If they are priced like gaming consoles, 75 percent said they would ask for a VR device.
About half of the kids expressed some concerns about health issues, heavy headsets, addiction and bumping into walls.
An infographic produced by Touchstone Research is below.
*Featured image sourced from the Charlie VR Player for Kids