Are VR headsets safe for children?

MADRID, Nov. 28 (Portaltic/EP) –

Since mid-2015 and, above all, throughout 2016, the virtual reality (VR) has been in full swing thanks to the arrival of different devices to the mass public. The VR – ‘virtual reality’, in English – is assuming a real revolution, but many aspects of the technology are still up in the air.

Although they still have a way to go forward, the virtual reality headsets are establishing themselves as a great entertainment formula. In addition, it is a technology that can be a before and after in other fields, such as education or medicine.

Despite the fact that little by little its different uses are being seen and how the future can be directed, it is true that it is still something “in diapers” and therefore arise questions about its harm or about the negative implications that VR can have on people’s health.

In recent times, its use in certain situations and groups has been questioned. There are not exactly a few who point out that it can make users eyesight worse, that they suffer from dizziness or that children should not use them because they affect in one way or another their cognitive development.

But, What is the truth in all this “gossip”? Are virtual reality headsets as harmful as some people would have us believe? To answer these and other questions, at Portaltic we have contacted Laura Raya, virtual reality doctor at U-tad with years of experience and studies in the field, in addition to multiple projects on their shoulders.


Before getting into shirts of eleven yards it is important to know What does the concept of “virtual reality” refer to?. This is a technology based on immersion and interaction with the environment.

Basically, it’s a computer generated reality who gets one vision stereoscopic where Teverything ceases to be fiction to resemble – and in many cases, to match – to the real world, to what we know or see in our day to day and that our brain is capable of recognizing, despite the fact that it only picks it up through helmets or glasses prepared for it. “When this happens, not only is the experience said to be immersive, but “presence” is achieved in the virtual environment: this is when a VR experience makes sense“, says Laura Raya.

Although virtual reality technology has been in development for a relatively short time and is booming even less, there are many things that have been emerging around it about the harmfulness of its use.

One of the first things said is that the VR headsets affect eyesightmaking it considerably worse. Any technological device that displays an image (such as these, mobiles or televisions, for example) produces some eye fatigue which can be aggravated if it is used for very long periods of time, at very short distances or, in general, contraindicatively. Besides, the distance intraocular (separation of the eyes) is vital, since the glasses tend to have said distance in a midpoint with respect to the intraocular distance of the users (thus they can “adapt” to more people), so the eye muscles tend to work harder which leads to more fatigue. In the case of Small childrenas discussed below, yes they have an effect that can be harmful.

When this type of technology began to reach the mass public, there were people talking about getting dizzy and nauseous. Even today there are people who continue to affirm it. This is due to two reasons, as our expert explains: “on the one hand, the FPS of the glasses must be high enough so that the movement of the objects and that of our head is coherent; on the other, the negative sensations are not only due to the device itself, but with a poor design of the VR experience (software running) even the best glasses can cause dizziness”. In summary, dizziness is true, but for these two reasons, that is why it was much more common to find cases like this in the beginning than now that everything is more and better developed.


Many people are struck by the fact that VR devices are not suitable for children. The The Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gearfor example, should only be used by people over the age of 13 years; the helmet PlayStation VR is contraindicated for children under 12 years. Those restrictions are reason for the stereotopic effectbut also because of issues related to that similarity with reality and the addiction that it can produce.

“The virtual reality produces much more powerful psychological effects than those that could be caused by a video game. More fear, more happiness, more terror, more exhaustion Everything is much more real and much more addictive. For this reason, you always have to be careful, ”says Laura. Besides, the Children’s eyesight develops, especially up to the age of six. The stereoscopic effect on a 2D screen, formed through two images transmitted one by each eye (which is the basis of virtual reality) can be detrimental to the development of young children’s eyesight”, he adds.

Indeed, in developing children, their interocular distance is below average and is highly variable, so the smaller the one who is using the technologysmaller interocular distance has and more likely that the use of VR headsets or goggles will affect your vision.

In what to developing cognitive In this regard, we have asked our expert if the use of these devices in children who do not meet the age recommendations can be harmful to them and, according to her words, The negative causes of virtual reality in children are not proven.

Another of the great unknowns about children and this technology is whether they can confuse virtual reality with the world around them, becoming a really dangerous technology for them. Indeed, this can happen, but not only with the smallest of the house, but also with adults, since it is a problem established in society in general.

The people live two parallel lives: the real one and the social media one with the phenomenon of “posturing”, wanting to be more than others and constantly showing off something. “Virtual reality is just another technology that could take the user to being more comfortable in a different and personalized reality than in their own”, explains Laura Raya.

When we talk about children today, it is usual that they have grown up with the digital content of mobile phones, movies or video games and there is nothing to show, scientifically speaking, that this or the use of virtual reality is something negative for them in terms of personality or psychology.

The fact that children (or adults) may be more comfortable in that alternative reality does not imply such a negative connotation as it may seem at first glance – as long as it is adequately controlled by specialists -, since “the VR can help solve disorders, phobias and psychological needs by transporting the patient to a virtual world adapted to him”, argues the doctor in virtual reality.


Virtual reality is not simply a now that is enjoyed with helmets and glasses, but it goes far beyond that simple “concept”. Although it is still “in diapers”, everything indicates that cAs it develops more and better it will be a real revolutionboth in the way of doing things and in the language to explain and understand them.

Laura Raya has worked on “educational projects with virtual reality and university students, who learn in a more fun way with VR systems compared to when they use traditional methodologies. The discovery learning is remarkably enhanced by the use of virtual reality devices”.

Within the same field of education, students with special characteristics (physically, intellectually disabled, people with psychological problems, etc.) can take advantage of technology, since it serves to equal learning opportunities, as well as a different therapeutic or training tool that can be adapted to each person according to their particular needs.

Virtual reality has to reach homes and stay”, affirms our expert. Forecasts indicate that 2017 will be the year in which quality content will be truly created by professionals in the sector. “Thanks to this, it will reach many more users and in ten years we can be talking about a VR that is not limited only to sight, but that hearing, touch and smell will go hand in handor to generate a truly immersive and spectacular virtual environment”, concludes Laura Raya, giving us a few brief insights into the future of this technology.