Virtual Reality

NSPCC Cymru urges parents to be aware of potential dangers VR headsets pose to children ahead of Christmas > News

Post : Fri 23 Dec 2022 for people living in or visiting the wrexham area

Parents are urged to be aware of the potential dangers of VR headsets for their children ahead of the Christmas holidays.

Virtual reality (VR) is now the fastest growing content segment in the world.

VR headsets can allow users to consume VR content by providing an immersive three-dimensional experience.

A VR headset is a head-mounted device that includes a display screen, stereo sound, and compatible sensors and controllers to deliver an immersive and interactive audio-visual experience.

According to YouGov research commissioned by the NSPCC, shows that one in five UK parents would buy a VR headset for a child if they could afford it.

The NSPCC urges parents to familiarize themselves with the risks young users may face in virtual worlds.

Products such as Oculus are expected to be a festive favourite, but the NSPCC’s online child safety experts are concerned that children have unchecked access to such an unregulated online space.

In response, they released simple new tips for families this month on how to keep kids safe when using VR, including using device safety features and supervising the children’s use as they navigate both virtual hazards and the physical space around them.

YouGov research shows that adults are concerned about children exploring the metaverse.

In the study, 68% of adults in Wales expressed doubts that tech companies are prioritizing children in the development of the metaverse.

The survey results echo what Childline counselors have heard.

Young people shared their experiences of virtual reality and are increasingly aware of the isolating nature of headsets and the ease with which predators can take advantage of the anonymity this unregulated online platform offers.

A school-age child who contacted Childline said: “Recently, I met a guy on my VR game, and I don’t know how I should feel about him.”

“He’s really bad, like he’s always making sexual comments to me and asking me to ‘kiss’ him. the game.”

“I know it’s messed up but I love his voice and he makes me feel like the person I prefer to be.”

“No one gives me that kind of affection in the real world.”

“I guess that’s why I use VR, so I can look and be like someone I’m not and it makes me feel good about myself.”

“I think I like this guy, but I don’t know if he just likes the character I’m playing online.”

To help keep children and young people safe when exploring these unregulated spaces, the charity has published parental guidance with a few simple steps to follow.

The NSPCC’s Parent’s Guide to VR Headsets includes simple tips for families on how to keep kids safe when using virtual reality. He suggests to parents:

  • Make helmet a family activity, take turns and play together
  • Take time to explore the helmet before allowing a child to use it.
  • Talk to children about how they use virtual reality. Make sure they know that personal information should not be shared with people they don’t know.
  • Get to know the security features offered by the device. Make sure the location is set to private, use parental controls, and check that privacy settings are turned on.
  • Set healthy boundaries and manage your child’s screen time.

Kate Edwards, Acting Associate Head of Child Online Safety at the NSPCC, said: “Parents considering buying a VR headset for their child this Christmas should be aware of the risks young users currently face when they have access to what, at this stage, is an unregulated world.

“To highlight this and help parents create a safer experience for their children, the NSPCC has released some simple steps to follow before and after giving the gift. ”

“But this responsibility should not rest solely with the parents. Tech companies need to do more to ensure child safety on existing products as well as those they deploy in the future.

“And the government must introduce a strong online safety bill that takes into account technological advancements and ensures that new devices and platforms are created with child protection at heart.”

Parents can learn more about what to expect from the Metaverse on the NSPCC website, before reading charity guide for new parents on VR headsets.

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