Virtual Reality to Turn Children into Zombies
“Four years old is a little young to see this whole movie,” Ben Affleck told the Associated Press when asked whether he would take his son to see “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” Affleck said further: “I don’t want him to have nightmares.”
It is, however, not just these violent superhero movies that parents might want to think twice about, it’s the entire movie-going experience. Thanks to some amazing technology, going to the movies has, over the course of the past few decades, become a much more intense experience. The screens have gotten a lot bigger, the volume has gotten louder, the graphics have become a lot more realistic.
The Impact of Contemporary Media on Kids
Many parents have commented that even at the age of 7 or 8, their kids don’t really enjoy going to the movies. Some believe this is because their children haven’t been exposed to a lot of other media or that they have been sheltered from scary stories. A more likely cause is simply children not being accustomed to the special effects that adults have become used to.
More often than not, cartoons are even worse than the non-animated movies. A movie such as “Yogi Bear” doesn’t need all of the frenzied music and graphics of, say, “Zootopia,” because it is already very realistic.
Virtual Reality and Kids
It seems, now, that the media companies have taken it up a notch. The emergence of virtual-reality devices may at first appear like a really cool way to give kids a more immersive experience, with McDonald’s launching a promotion, earlier this year, in Sweden of Happy Meal boxes that could be turned into virtual-reality viewers.
Over 3,000 Happy Goggles were doled out with a ski-themed virtual reality game called “Slope Stars.” Coca Cola also recently offered purchasers of 12-packs a similar option where virtual-reality goggles could be made from the boxes that hold the soda cans.
There is obviously a lot yet to be said about this technology, especially as it affects kids. In March, for example, Expedia and St. Jude’s Hospital teamed up to give kids who were too sick to leave the hospital a way to experience their dream vacation with the aid of virtual reality. Sick kids were able to experience scuba diving or riding horses.
Soon however, virtual reality is going to be available for everyone thanks to products like the new Oculus Rift. In a couple of years, the device will probably be just as commonplace as iPhones. HBO, Discovery, and many of the biggest media companies have made large investments in this area. And virtual reality is likely going to revolutionize the world of pornography too.
The Effect of VR Headsets are as yet unknown
Unfortunately, nobody knows yet what the effect putting these headsets on kids will be. Even the manufacturers seem to acknowledge this with Samsung’s manual for its Gear VR reading: “Not for use by children under 13. Watching videos or playing games with the Gear VR may affect the visual development of children. When children, age 13 or older, use the Gear VR, adults should limit their usage time and ensure they take frequent breaks. Adults should monitor children closely after using the Gear VR if children feel discomfort.”
What is the probability that such a device would be available in the home of any kid and they wouldn’t actually want to or get the chance to use it? Quite slim. Parents should, however, beware as kids who are still trying to get used to what is a part of the real world may not be ready for a virtual one yet.