Print Edition - 2017-11-02  |  Health and Living

Virtual reality headsets could put children’s health at risk

  • children’s health

Nov 2, 2017-

Researchers have warned that virtual reality headsets could pose risks to users, particularly children. The scientists, based at Leeds University, believe continued use of VR sets could trigger eyesight and balance problems in young people unless changes are made to devices.

The study by the Leeds researchers—who have been working in close collaboration with British VR companies—is one of the first to be carried out into the impact of virtual reality sets on users. “In a VR device, a virtual three-dimensional world is displayed on a 2D screen and that places strain on the human visual system,” said Mark Mon-Williams, professor of cognitive psychology at Leeds University. “In adults, that can lead to headaches and sore eyes. But with children, the long-term consequences are simply unknown.”

In their study, the researchers found no child experienced serious deterioration in their eyesight. However, in two cases their stereo-acuity—the ability to detect differences in distances—was disrupted, while another child showed a “drastic worsening” of balance immediately after finishing the VR game. These effects were short-lived but were nevertheless noticeable, even though the children were immersed for only a short time in their virtual reality world.

Failure to address the issues could lead to physiological damage in children, which in turn could limit take-up of VR devices. 

Published: 02-11-2017 07:59

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