Virtual reality is on track to become commonplace in our daily lives. This holiday season, the sale of extended reality headsets soared, connecting more people to the metaverse: a 3-D, digital network. The metaverse is becoming increasingly accessible. Someday soon, it is likely to be as ubiquitous as the internet. This means that learning how to use virtual reality will be important for students. It's up to parents and educators to safely introduce VR to kids.
Proficiency with VR might not seem critical yet, but it will be an important part of media literacy in the years to come. Not only will Gen Alpha encounter VR as children, but they are likely to use it in their professional lives in the coming decades.
The extended reality umbrella (encompassing virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality) provides exciting opportunities for hands-on training with low associated risks.
For example, what if med students could practice operating in a fully immersive digital world? Or if car mechanics could do the same? The metaverse poses exciting opportunities for education at all levels
Kids will need virtual reality skills to reap the metaverse’s educational rewards.
The Best Virtual Reality for Kids, Ad-Free
At Kai XR, we understand that any connection between kids and the digital plane comes with safety concerns. These include screen time health, advertisements, and inappropriate content.
It’s up to parents and educators to build a safety net to protect kids while online, as well as teach them digital competencies they can use to look out for themselves. This can look like:
- Creating screen time limits
- Turning safe search on
- Blocking inappropriate websites
- Having open dialogue with kids about using chat boxes on virtual games
- Downloading an ad blocker
While many adults are adept at wading through a complex digital landscape—kids in tow—via the internet, they may feel less comfortable doing so in the metaverse.
One easy way to circumvent this learning gap is to connect with the best VR for kids: digital experiences designed specifically for young learners.
Our mission is to provide global educational opportunities that will inspire the next generation to be innovators who make a positive impact. We do this by providing accessible, 360° experiences where students can travel near and far.
Our offerings are a path to inclusive, meaningful learning opportunities amidst the budget and logistical constraints faced by many schools.
Kai XR was founded by an educator, and we continue to be committed to connecting classrooms to content that is the best of the best. Our virtual stories, field trips, and lessons are fully ad-free and designed to safely enrich any classroom.
Our platform has received praise from Steve Harvey and NBC’s Shomari Stone. Kai XR was also selected by T-Mobile’s Immersive Technology Program to grow our platform. You can read more about this partnership in Forbes.
We continue to make waves by creating virtual reality for kids that is:
In this article, we’ll discuss what the research says about safe VR use for kids. We’ll also share how Kai XR meets the mark and sets students up for long-term success.
Are Virtual Reality Headsets for Kids Safe?
We understand that parents and educators want to do their research before introducing new tech—especially tech as cutting-edge as virtual reality—to kids. We’ll make rounding up the data easy by covering what the research says about VR headsets for kids.
In 2018, a report from Common Sense Media explained that there was not yet enough research to make conclusive claims about the effects of VR headsets on children.
However, companies erred on the safe side by recommending that kids who use VR on headsets be 13 years or older.
Common Sense Media also collected stats about parents’ attitudes toward VR. They found that:
- 43% of parents thought that kids under 13 could use VR
- 84% of parents of VR-using 8-17 years old thought the tech would provide their children with opportunities for learning
- 58% of parents agree that VR would allow kids to do otherwise impossible things
- 50% of parents thought that VR would be a fun way to play together as a family
The report also rounded up information about how children actually interact with VR. It found that:
- 76% of children used VR to play games
- 38% of children used VR to watch videos or movies
- 22% of children used VR to learn something
One review (published in the journal Virtual Reality) did a broad sweep of existing research to investigate potential risks associated with VR in children, including cybersickness, cognition, and psychosocial competencies.
Researchers did not find virtual reality to have a negative impact on children’s cognitive or psychosocial skills. Rather, the use of virtual reality had the potential to facilitate children’s social and collaborative skills. Some researchers also found that virtual reality actually had the potential to help children on the autism spectrum adjust to crowded, unfamiliar environments.
The review also indicated that health concerns for children using VR are almost identical to those caused by other screen-based tools kids use such as tablets and smartphones.
For example, some research found a correlation between cybersickness and VR. However, researchers reported that this was not much different from what children will experience after using any device that emits blue light. They also noted that activities including reading (and we’re talking about physical, paper books here) also cause eyestrain.
So, what does this all mean?
That–until research on the long-term impacts of VR on kids emerges–educators and parents can keep children safe by following Common Sense Media’s advice: exercise moderation.
At Kai XR, we intentionally follow this recommendation of moderation. Our field trips are specifically crafted to be under 10 minutes. This means older students can enjoy quick, immersive lessons. Field trips and other experiences are short enough to hold kids’ attention, as well as prevent cybersickness.
These short experiences also provide opportunities for kids to put down their devices and engage in the critical thinking discussions that we outline in our educator viewing guides.
Get the Best Virtual Reality for Kids with Kai XR
At Kai XR, the safety of children is at the forefront of our work.
Because VR comes with age limitations–most virtual reality headsets are for kids 12 years and older–we’ve created platforms for younger children.
Using cutting-edge, 360° technology, students can transform their device into a VR tablet with Exploration Mode to access our experiential field trips—as well as other features, like scavenger hunts—available through our VR platform.
Exploration Mode turns smartphones and tablets into windows through which students ages 12 and under can explore the world around them simply by moving their devices—up, down, and all around. This provides a highly engaging, visually stimulating, and age-appropriate way to introduce students to the exciting world of VR.
Younger students may enjoy using our Exploration Mode to experience all corners of the world. It’s also a great tool to engage students in new topics.
Students may enjoy watching the Lion King Musical on a virtual field trip. In this quick experience, students get a stage view of the opening bars of the show, then stand in the wings as a cast of animals emerges. For children who’ve seen the movie, this experience is a great way to practice identifying similarities and differences between both works.
Navigating the History of the Super Mario Brothers can be another great starting point for teaching kids about identifying similarities and differences or creating Venn diagrams.
In this experience, students travel through Nintendo’s history–from Super Mario in the 1980s to his 2015 iteration. Through the experience, Mario’s art style changes with each game. Students familiar with the character will notice this evolution and be able to point out these changes.
More than just an educational tool, Kai XR strives to be the first touch point for students interested in VR technology. By accessing our content through Exploration Mode on tablets or smartphones, students can grow with Kai XR until they are ready—and old enough—to take the plunge into fully immersive VR learning.
Ensuring the Safety of Older Kids Playing VR
We are also sensitive to the safety concerns of older students using VR.
Kai XR is unique in that it provides a specific, curated library of virtual lessons. This means students do not have free reign to browse the internet while using our materials. Kai XR is not an unrestricted portal to the metaverse.
Our content comes from our own staff members, as well as from renowned and respected institutions including NASA and National Geographic.
For teens, one aspect of internet use is a constant influx of ads. In November of 2021, organizations including Fairplay and Global Action Plan compiled a report detailing how Facebook uses children’s personal data to deliver individualized ads. They found that the practice led to targeted ads that some youth found disconcerting, as well as increased consumer pressures on teens.
In another survey, 87% of parents agreed that they would support “removing all advertisements and sponsorships in children's content.”
We understand these concerns. That’s why students will never encounter ads or other pop-ups through Kai XR.
Instead, they will be connected with inclusive, eye-opening content that allows classroom lectures to come to life. Below, we’ll highlight some of these enriching experiences.
Impactful Virtual Reality for Kids
You can explore all sorts of subjects with Kai XR.
Middle school and high school students can gain a lot from Taking a 360 Virtual Reality Trip to a Nasa Space Walking Training, Stepping Inside the World of British Fashion Icons, or Exploring Futuristic Black History.
All the above experiences can be enjoyed in Exploration Mode, but are especially exciting to view with a virtual reality headset for kids. This gear allows students to fully immerse themselves in the lesson or field trip.
For example, in our “Dreaming in Za’atari” field trip, students meet three teens: Najat, Tabarak, and Mahmoud.
These Syrian teenagers live in a refugee camp in Jordan. As they go about their days, they share their dreams with the audience: living in Paris; becoming a writer; bringing peace to Syria.
This field trip can open discussions about:
- International conflicts
- Refugee camps
- Human rights
Immersive lessons like these are powerful ways to introduce sensitive topics without dehumanizing the people whose lives they encompass.
In another field trip, “Explore Chernobyl,” local guide Alexander leads viewers through Ukraine’s exclusion zone, a result of the 1986 nuclear disaster. Alexander grew up in nearby city Pripyat, but had to leave the city when he was 9 years old because of the disaster.
Now, he leads tours to the exclusion zone. Despite the dangers, he believes it’s important for people to see the effects of the disaster.
This field trip can open discussions about:
- Nuclear power
- Regulations on experimentation
Narrative is a great way to get students interested in curriculum, and immersive narrative goes the extra (virtual mile) to capture teens’ interest.
Other Kai XR virtual field trips that can lead to impactful lessons include:
- The Mesozoic Era virtual field trip
- Engineering for Mars VR field trip
- The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial virtual field trip
- The Historic Obama Portraits virtual field trip
- The World of British Fashion Icons virtual field trip
Where Can VR for Kids Lead?
VR is also becoming commonplace beyond the classroom walls.
In a 2020 survey about virtual and augmented reality, results pointed to continued growth for these technologies.
One key finding was that many expect VR/AR to become an asset to the medical field and manufacturing field. Medical students could use immersive technologies to receive surgical training. Manufacturing workers could also receive simulated training with this tech. AR and VR could also provide real-time assistance to factory employees.
Those findings only scratch the surface of the future of extended reality. The metaverse has the potential to stretch as far as the human imagination. Whether for training, education, or entertainment, we are entering an age where access to this domain is inevitable.
Kai XR safely introduces students to this new technology, allowing them to become fluent with XR and apply these capabilities throughout the rest of their lives.
Safely Connecting Kids and VR
VR will soon touch all of our lives, whether at home, school, or work. This means that going forward, knowing how to use extended reality will be an integral part of digital literacy.
We understand schools and families’ concerns about finding the best virtual reality headsets and offerings for kids. It’s important to avoid presenting children with material that is:
- Longer than a few minutes
- Only compatible with immersive headsets
That’s why we intentionally provide a safe, educational entry-point that is accessible with both immersive headsets and tablets via Explore Mode.
Our curated library of experiences is extensive, but the offerings prioritize quality, inclusive experiences over quantity. Kai XR’s field trips run for 10 minutes or less, to ensure student health while engaging with XR technology.