We prefer to tread carefully and always try to
do research before introducing new technology to our child. We knew the AAP had
recently updated its
recommendations on screentime, but were unable to find much online
specifically on the topic of young kids and virtual reality.
Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab has been conducting research to see how the technology
impacts kids. But the results are not complete. So I turned to a parenting
expert whose expertise I respect and perspective I admire—Katie Hurley, LCSW and
author of "The Happy Kid Handbook" and Mom.me contributor.
"As with other
areas of technological advancement and kids, I think parents should follow three
goals," Hurley told me. "Supervise them. Try new tech before introducing it to your
child, and then use it together. Be present and available. Exercise moderation."
She said technology is great, but so is reading for fun and
making mud pies outside.
"Kids might enjoy the virtual
reality experience for a bit, but be sure to balance it with other great stuff," she said.
It's also important to know your child, their interests, fears and limits.
"One child might be really excited about trying virtual
reality, but another might be genuinely scared," she said. "Resist
the urge to push. Kids try new things when they're ready."
We wanted our daughter to be
able to experience the wonder and fun of virtual reality while also keeping her
well-being and safety in mind. So we set a few special rules regarding this new
reality within one hour of bedtime
No more than 15
minutes at one sitting
reality time must be supervised by a parent
reality programs to be used must be prescreened and approved by a parent
The first thing my daughter
asked was if the glasses would count as screentime. Yep, it does. Our overall rules regarding screentime apply. Her time per day is limited and must be
Once the expectations had
been set, we were ready to let her give the glasses a go. And her reaction was
She declared the experience
to be "Awe-SOME!" She was amazed by, and in love with, our new gadget.
There were a couple of
points where I was concerned she might be overwhelmed. I kept my hand on her
knee so she remembered we were there and she was safe. And we told her she
could stop at any time if she felt she needed to.
I also had to remind her a
few times not to move around too fast. She gets motion sick on long car rides, and I was a bit concerned. We sat her in my husband's desk chair so he could
spin her around slowly to get the full 360 experience. Any time she would jerk
her head around quickly, we'd remind her to slow down.
As soon as she had completed
her first experience, she wanted to know what other things she could see, what
places she could "visit." She looked at the globe in my husband's office and
began naming countries she wanted to learn more about.
When thinking about the
potential for this new technology, Katie Hurley said that virtual reality may benefit some kids. "Think about kids
living in hospitals while undergoing medical treatments—what a great escape
for a few moments."