Virtual reality headsets are expected to be a hot item this holiday season but their use by children has some doctors concerned.
“Virtual reality is still a very new technology, still evolving and we really don't yet know what the impact may be on children,” Dr. Rudrani Banik, a neuro-ophthalmologist with New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, told ABC News.
A virtual reality (or VR) headset is worn over your eyes like goggles and shows you an up-close view on a high-definition screen in order to immerse yourself in the image or game.
Banik said the headsets could potentially cause long-term issues for children, although it is too soon to know.
“In virtual reality, basically the brain is only getting input from the eyes and we don't know if that isolated input is really going to have an impact on the other senses and how we integrate and experience,” she said.
Manufacturers of virtual reality headsets warn that the headsets are not meant for young kids. Samsung says its products are for kids age 13 and older, while Sony recommends its Playstation VR be used by kids 12 and older.
“PlayStation VR provides an immersive gaming experience that allows players to feel as though they are transported out of the living room and into a virtual game world,” Sony Interactive Entertainment America told ABC News in a statement. “The product is not recommended for children under the age of 12, and this information is included on our packaging. We recommend that PlayStation VR users take regular breaks, about 15 minutes during each hour of play.”
Banik said that as parents wait for more definitive facts on virtual reality headsets, they should closely monitor their kids’ use.
“I would say moderation is most important when allowing our children to use these devices,” she said.