A while back, I wrote about doing VR demos at my daughter’s school during ‘Career Day’. This was an elementary school, and most of the kids I talked to were in the 8-12 age range. This group of kids were already passionate about virtual reality due to their addiction to watching numerous YouTubers who showed off shiny new HMDs.
At a VR expo last year, I found myself telling this story to a member of the Oculus legal team. She suddenly realized that I was talking about young children, and stopped me, saying, ‘I didn’t hear this. They were at least 13, right?’ I lied, said yes, and continued with the story. This conversation has lingered in my brain ever since.
What’s the deal with the age limit for VR headsets?
(Please read in Jerry Seinfeld’s voice)
This product should not be used by children under the age of 13.
The Gear VR should not be used by children under the age of 13, as young children are in a critical period in visual development.
Daydream View should not be used by children under the age of 13.
The product was not designed to be used by children. Do not leave the product within the reach of young children or allow them to use or play with it. They could hurt themselves or others, or could accidentally damage the product.
The product may contain small parts with sharp edges that may cause an injury or which could become detached and create a choking hazard for young children. Consult your doctor immediately if any parts of the product or accessories are swallowed.
Sony Playstation VR (per their Health and Safety screen)
This VR headset is not for use by children under age 12
I’m very confused. Where do these age limits come from? If you believe the old ‘Sega VR’ testing scandal, then you are convinced that using VR will make your kids cross-eyed. Then again, there are companies currently using VR to TREAT and FIX eye conditions, so I find that difficult to believe.
If there are doctors doing current studies about this, I would love to talk to them. I feel like the ‘under 13 is bad’ concept has just become a default, with very little to back it up.
I will say this, just like with EVERYONE ELSE, kids should be aware that IPD (interpupillary distance) settings need to be correct in order to have a comfortable experience. I once stayed in VR for over 2 hours with my IPD set too high, and when I took the headset off, I found it nearly impossible for my eyes to converge correctly. After a 10 minute nap, I was fine again, but it did freak me out a bit.
Moderation is the key. Parents, make your kids take breaks, and make sure the settings are correct before they do VR.
I will continue to be an advocate for children under 13 to use VR. After all, they are the generation that will help bring VR into the mainstream.