Virtual reality (VR)
Virtual reality (VR) technology opens the door to a whole new level of immersive gaming experience.
What is virtual reality?
Virtual reality uses computer hardware and software to create an artificial environment that looks and sounds as if you are there. A VR gamer typically wears goggles which generate realistic images and sounds to make them feel as though they are ‘in’ a digital 3D world, by blocking off the sights and sounds of the outside world.
Virtual reality headsets
Often, you can interact with and navigate this environment by using a headset and handheld controllers loaded with sensors that track your head and hand movements. Coupled with emerging haptic or touch devices that create the sensation of feeling the environment, this technology provides a realistic and high-sensory experience.
Oculus Rift S, Quest Pro, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR and Valve Index are examples of headsets. They can be used for experiences and virtual reality games that users can engage in on their own, with their friends, or with other users they may not know.
Virtual reality platforms that enable exploration and interaction with others, such as Fortnite, Minecraft, Rec Room, Roblox and VRChat, are sometimes referred to as the ‘metaverse’ or ‘metaverse environments’.
Most VR systems are recommended for children aged 12+. As with any game played on a gaming device or console, it’s wise to do some research and check classification to see if a game is suitable for your child. Common Sense Media also provide extensive guidance on games.
What to look out for
- Besides requiring hardware, for example a gaming console or PC, most VR systems require additional accessories to play, such as controllers, headsets with microphones and cameras or sensors.
- Multiplayer online games connect players across the globe. Be aware of who can chat with your child and the conversations that can take place within these games.
How to stay safe
- Encourage regular breaks throughout the play period to ensure a healthy balance of activities for your child.
- Make sure your child has a safe space to play, where they aren’t likely to trip over wires, furniture or other people.
- Set boundaries around the times and areas in the house devices and consoles can be used.
- Use the parental control measures available on gaming consoles to help ensure the whole family can safely enjoy all the positive aspects of online gaming.
- Remain engaged in your child’s online lives and let them know you’ll be there to support them if something goes wrong online.