Virtual Reality at present is something of a novelty – a new
fun way of playing games, watching video footage or movies, and exploring the
internet, but some people are speculating on how this medium will impact the development
of the human psyche in the future.
It has already been proven that too much screen time might be bad for developing brains, with doctors recommending that babies and infants under the age of two having absolutely no screen time at all, and toddlers and young children having their access to screens severely limited, albeit increasing slightly with every birthday until their brain has developed enough to handle the changes wrought on it by the entirely unnatural flickering screens. This was true of television, and is even more true of tablets and phones: devices that by their very nature, need to be used in close proximity to the body and usually solo. This means it is all too easy to allow the child to use the device for far too long.
In an already-developed brain, this is not too much of a problem, but in a developing brain, it can result in major issues with sociability and perception. Think about it: a baby has not been in the world for very long, and every human, not birth onwards, learns primarily by looking, listening, touching, smelling and tasting – using their sense in other words. Adults that have finished developing in the real world will easily be able to distinguish between a make-believe fantasy world, but children will not have that certainty.
So a child is more inclined to believe what they see on the small screen: fairies are real because I’ve seen them, dinosaurs walk the earth once more, and the stars are accessible to everyone and all in the blink of a wormhole, no need for lengthy light years spent in stasis! With this unreal world available with the click of a mouse or the tap of a screen, it is not surprising that people are beginning to worry that children’s perceptions of the world might be very different from those of older people – those who came before the towering peaks of the technological revolution upon which we are all now surfing.
As always, there is a solution: listen to advice and keep children away from screens. Wait until they are old enough to distinguish what is real from what is made-up – especially when the made-up things are so much more tempting than mundane reality. When children are introduced to virtual worlds, it must be at a time in their lives when they are capable of understanding what it is that they are experiencing.