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Virtual Reality Safety Guide for Parents & Educators

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This virtual reality dangers guide for parents and educators will help VIP members learn

  • What to look for when selecting games on your students’ virtual reality device
  • Potential dangers students might face in online virtual reality experiences
  • How to set limits and talk as a family about appropriate and non-appropriate VR experiences 

Unlock this video to learn what you can do to keep kids safe on virtual reality devices and games

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Virtual Reality Safety Guide for Parents & Educators

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Almost 15 million virtual reality or augmented reality sets are scheduled to be shipped to customers around the world in 2022 (Source). If your home or organization is using one, or more, of these devices for kids to experience immersive technology, there are some key warnings to know and think about as you set up this experience.

Parent and educator video

What we're covering in this video:

(Click on a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

1. Common types of VR

2. Why should parents care about online VR?

3. Examples of VR dangers

4. Tips for parents to keep kids safe

5. Tell us what you think!

Common types of virtual reality devices

  • Smartphone enabled VR (like Google Cardboard): The goggles hold the user’s smartphone and use the phone’s screen as a lens. Apps and games are designed to run on a smartphone
  • PC VR: The goggles are connected to a computer or console like a Microsoft XBox or Sony PlayStation to run the software
  • Standalone VR (like Oculus/Meta Quest or VIVE Focus platforms): The headset has a built-in processor to run the software

Common virtual reality experiences

  • First-person action games put users in the middle of the scenario. Examples include racing games or first-person shooter scenarios
  • Crafting apps put users in control of creating something in the virtual environment. Examples include Minecraft, building a virtual empire, or designing objects that could be sent to a 3D printer to make reality
  • Virtual tours & immersive experiences send users to museums and cities around the world or through time for experiences without leaving their own home. Examples include museums, Ancient Greece, concerts, etc.
  • Multi-device co-op games allow users to mix technology in multi-player games to play with virtual reality or smart devices.  Examples include “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes” game
  • Many VR technologies are partnering with medical professionals, search and rescue teams, etc. to create training and guided experiences for highly skilled professions 

Why should parents care about online virtual reality?

  • A growing number of games are multi-player with chat functions that allow users to easily connect with strangers via chat and audio communication
  • Online communication with strangers, or friends, can be another place students may experience bullying
  • All devices warn users to check their physical space before putting the headset on and some devices have options to create boundaries the game recognizes to help prevent physical injury
  • Any user is vulnerable to potential motion sickness and eye strain depending on how their bodies react to the immersive experiences

Examples of virtual reality dangers

Security experts believe where there's money to be made, the criminals won't be far behind and all things — including money, personal information and social security numbers — are at risk. -CBS News
Police say 13-year-old girl who disappeared from her home in Roosevelt and was found several days later was communicating with the 25-year-old suspect from Florida, for a month using something called Oculus.- 2KUTV
The woman said: ‘"I fumbled with the controllers to try to use the safety features, i.e. block and report. But as I was asking them to 'stop', 'go away', I realised I needed to end this as their verbal harassment and sexual innuendos were getting increasingly aggressive.’ - CNBCTV18

Tips for parents to keep kids safe on virtual reality devices

  • Review the ESRB Safety rating for any games or activities your kids want to play on the device and consider sticking to the age ratings in these warnings (Example: Minecraft for Virtual Reality is rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB; Zenith: The Last city on Quest, PSVR, PC VR is rated M Mature 17+)
  • Decide as a family what games are allowed to be played on the devices and set expectations of what permissions are needed to obtain new software
  • Check that the in-game/in-app purchase or download settings match your family’s decisions
  • Check each game’s settings to determine if the game has options to play “offline” or to turn off  live chat or audio from other players
  • Become familiar with your specific device or game’s reporting functions for bullying and inappropriate users
  • Ensure your students know what information is never ok to share online (such as location, their name or friends’ names, passwords, etc.) 
  • Play the games for yourself-get your kids to explain them to you! (Take turns on the device and complete the demos or tutorials together. Talk through what you are seeing for your student to explain it to you as you experience VR)
  • Talk to kids about what to do if they see inappropriate images (violence, blood, sexual content, use of alcohol or drugs, etc.) in their headsets or hear strong language you don’t want them to hear and why 
  • If possible, screencast the image to another device so you can see what they are seeing and don’t allow students to play multi-player games using headphones
  • If your VR headset includes headphones, ensure your kids know the expectations of what to do if they hear something that is not acceptable

Conclusion

Virtual reality headsets have great potential to take users into immersive experiences they might not have in “real life.” But, many of the same dangers of online interactions in gaming and social media also exist in the metaverse of virtual reality. By setting family expectations and learning about the potential dangers of what they may see online, students can find ways to have fun with immersive technology. 

Additional resources

Listen to the MomTalk podcast to hear Beth and Andrea discuss Virtual Reality

Listen to Josh discuss VR for counseling and family connections with guests from Virgils, Inc.

Learn more about Minecraft

Minecraft: Guide for Parents & Educators

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Become a member or login to learn more on this topic

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.

Login as a VIP to learn more about the dangers of online virtual reality

This virtual reality dangers guide for parents and educators will help VIP members learn

  • What to look for when selecting games on your students’ virtual reality device
  • Potential dangers students might face in online virtual reality experiences
  • How to set limits and talk as a family about appropriate and non-appropriate VR experiences 

Unlock this video to learn what you can do to keep kids safe on virtual reality devices and games

Become a member or log in to learn more on this topic

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.
Quotation marks

This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

StarStarStarStarStar

Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

Quotation marks

Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

StarStarStarStarStar

Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

Quotation marks

This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

StarStarStarStarStar

Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

Learn more

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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