What parents need to know about virtual reality

Virtual reality has been around, in various rudimentary forms, since the late 1970s. After a prolonged gestation period, however, the technology’s march to the mainstream has begun to gather momentum in recent years. The UK government, for example, is predicting a meteoric 78% rise in spending on VR and its stable-mate AR (augmented reality) by 2024.

The potential applications of VR in gaming and entertainment are obvious. From its longer-term physical and mental effects on users to its rules of online engagement, however, virtual reality remains an area that most of us know comparatively little about. Our #WakeUpWednesday guide this week attempts to put trusted adults in the picture about the emerging phenomenon of VR.

Less than 1% of the world’s gaming population currently play in VR – but with high-end headsets like the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift as the vanguard, the influence of virtual reality is beginning to be felt among the gaming community. Improved data transmission rates (such as faster WiFi and the advent of 5G) and a growing selection of games are also accelerating the process. So if this change is coming – with young players likely to enthusiastically embrace fully immersive game environments – what do parents and carers need to know in advance? Our #WakeUpWednesday guide to VR highlights the potential risks, including inappropriate content, motion sickness, eye strain, physical accidents and – as ever – other people.