Sony PlayStation recently told the media that its upcoming virtual reality headset is unsuitable for children younger than 12.
With 2016 being the year when the first VR headsets are coming out, early adopters must gauge carefully which of the head mounts suits them best. Some of them, namely tech passionate parents, ponder which device will bring more value to their children's education.
Is it the Oculus Rift, the motion-tracking HTC Vive, best buddy of smartphones Gear VR or the gaming-centric PlayStation VR?
Oculus and Samsung announced that users of their head-mounted displays should have a minimum age of 13, and the former motivated its choice by saying that kids under that age are in "a critical period in visual development." Some manufacturers did not yet announce an age restriction. The Vive from HTC is in such a position, but the information should surface before the company starts to ship its preordered head-mounted devices.
Sony, on the other hand, came out and underlined that children under 12 should not make use of the PlayStation VR. The company recently released the 3.5 software update for PlayStation 4, and its notes seem to set the frame for the upcoming VR headset's release.
Alongside the age-restriction warning, the company points out that users should clear the VR area before engulfing in virtual reality experiences. Considering how immersive the process can be, it's a sound advice to keep children, pets and other obstacles out of the area.
Most educators and tech experts agree that virtual reality will play a paramount role in schools and educational facilities. However, the manufacturers of VR headsets are taking their time. For example, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey wants to see the general public embracing the technology before thinking about lowering the age ratings.
It is possible that some parents will allow their children who are younger than 12 to use Sony's VR headset. As usage can be controlled and verified, there is no reason to hold the kids back from positive experiences. It should be noted, however, that a virtual reality experience is much more powerful than anything the human body normally experiences.
This is why Sony included a disclaimer in the update notes, saying that symptoms such as "motion sickness, nausea, disorientation and blurred vision" could pop up.
As a quick reminder, the PlayStation VR is designed to sport compatibility with the latest console from Sony, the PlayStation 4.
The specs of the PlayStation VR indicate that it will provide graphics at 120 Hz refresh rate via a 5.7-inch OLED display. The field-of-view will stretch to a full 100 degrees.
"Games for PlayStation VR can be rendered at 120fps. When combined with the OLED display's high refresh rate and the power of PS4, it means PS VR outputs amazingly smooth visuals," Sony points out.
But the bigger issue when it comes to children using VR headsets is finding ways to protect them from getting in contact with adult content too early. Some companies already took a stand towards the issue, with Oculus announcing what kind of adult-oriented content it will feature in its online home store.