It all took place in VR. But for Roach — who spotted this gory scene while monitoring his son’s VR gaming on a computer screen that mirrored what Peyton was doing with an Oculus Quest 2 headset — it felt uncomfortably real.
Roach was aware that Peyton saw a virtual weapon in VR when he looked down at it. It wasn’t just a game controller. It didn’t matter that it was a one-player game. This meant that the characters were not represented by any other humans.
He said, “It bothered my in a way that it doesn’t even on flat screens because they’re doing this with their hands in physically presence.”
Roach, a Missouri resident who works as a community manager at Edstutia VR-based learning portal, sat down to talk with Peyton about the events. He stopped letting his oldest children, Peyton (now 12), and his 11 and 14-year old brothers play this game.
Roach is just one of many parents who are navigating the new frontier of technology and learning as they go. More kids have access to VR headsets than ever before — and with it, access to a still-niche but expanding virtual world of games, avatar-driven hangouts, and many more activities. It is expected that the number of children who use it will increase following the holiday season.
The headsets are becoming more popular, but some models, such as the Quest 2, do not have established parental controls, like time limits or maturing settings for profiles. These can be found on a website. A traditional console video game system or a service such as Netflix.
The headsets are often sold by companies that have age restrictions. For example, the Quest 2 is designed for children aged 13 and over. It requires a Facebook account. However, parents might not notice or agree. For example, the Quest 2 box only shows an age limit in small print on the back corner of a slide off paper sleeve. This makes it the most disposable part the headset’s packaging.
Kristina Milian, spokesperson for Meta, stated that the company is constantly looking to improve the protections and controls offered users and that Quest devices are “not intended” for children under 13. Milian said that the company’s “headset packaging, safety and health warnings” are all in place. [and]This age restriction is made “clear” in the onboarding safety video.
However, there are some Parents feel that they have. These people can come up with their own rules or VR-safety strategies. These range from watching kids’ every virtual move in realtime via a smartphone or other display, to limiting what they can download — or even only allowing them to use the technology with an adult.
Amber Albrecht, who lives in Bend, Oregon, stated that she believes it should be simpler for parents. Her daughter Rylee, 10 years old, and her son Cooper, 8 years old, purchased Quest 2 headsets from Quest 2 with Christmas money.
Sometimes I feel like somebody is watching me.
Normally, Parents can see what their children are doing on a screen such as a tablet, smartphone, or TV. VR makes it more complicated because the display sits on the user’s face, hiding from others.
Both Roach as well Albrecht CNN Business told CNN Business that they can get around this issue by using a feature designed to let non-VR users see behind the headset., Also known as casting. This option allows you to view the VR headset-wearer in real-time on a smartphone or other flatscreen.
Roach said, “Anytime my children jump into VR, I take advantage of that casting feature.” Roach has a Quest 2 headset and a PlayStation VR headset. The latter does offer VR. Parental controls, such as time restrictions and playtime limits via a PlayStation 4, can be implemented. According to him, it is easier to monitor their three-dimensional activities at home than the PS4’s two-dimensional gaming in a bedroom.
In hopes of preventing — or at least minimizing — negative experiences in virtual spaces, Roach and other parents said they’re monitoring the apps their kids download and setting rules about what types of content are off limits. Roach stated that his children are not allowed to download apps. However, they can suggest titles and Roach will research them (and sometimes play them) to make sure they’re appropriate. His experience with Blade & Sorcery helped him settle on a no-realistic-violence policy for VR play, but he’s okay with cartoonish brutality.
Albrecht, who is a tech industry public relations specialist, said that VR apps that involve guns, violence, and zombies aren’t allowed. She set up the Quest 2 headsets for her children with her Facebook account. This connects to her Oculus app on her smartphone. From there, she can see if any apps have been downloaded. She said that her children use the headsets with her husband and beside her, so they can hear (via Quest 2’s built-in speakers), what’s going on.
Albrecht and other parents acknowledged the risks of VR, and said that they can see the potential benefits to their children. She explained that it’s like a new frontier for their social lives, where the children are learning to communicate. We work in remote places. They also need to acquire these skills.”
Time is uncertain.
Although casting restrictions and limiting the content children can access may be helpful in keeping parents informed, it doesn’t mean that children won’t encounter violence or abuse online.
She said that the duration of the stimulation experience for the child is what determines the time limit. This can be difficult to calculate.
Parents may not set a time limit for their children’s virtual activities. However, there are some quirks in existing wireless VR headsets that could be a benefit to parents who get tired of monitoring their kids’ virtual activities. They are limited in their battery life and can run out much faster than other gadgets that kids might use.
“I will say that it is the battery life, which is the other parental control. Albrecht stated that it doesn’t last as long.