Virtual Reality for Kids: How Can Children Join the Fun?

As virtual reality headsets have become more accessible and more affordable, the use of these devices has been growing, and this has not gone unnoticed by the youngest entertainment consumers: children. At one point, VR headsets were far too expensive to consider putting in the hands of children, but now, many parents are giving the idea of letting their kids explore VR a second look. Meanwhile, app developers have made quite a few VR games that are suitable for younger audiences. Like with any other form of entertainment or technology, it’s important to read up on how to safely use virtual reality for kids, but it is possible for children to enjoy VR just like adults do.

A picture of a kid plays a game while wearing a VR headset

Is VR Safe for Kids?

Like many other things, VR is safe for some kids, but it’s important to consider the maturity level of the child and ensure that VR is used only in moderation. VR headset manufacturers include safety guidelines in their packaging that address the use of these products by children:

  • PlayStation suggests that the PlayStation VR not be used by children under the age of 12.
  • HTC doesn’t specify an age limit for its Vive headsets, but they do advise that young children should not use the product.
  • The instructions included with the Oculus Quest 2 note that children under the age of 14 should not use the product.

These warnings are in place partially because the headsets aren’t designed for smaller heads, and there’s also still a fear that VR may impair eye development in young children. Since VR is still a relatively new technology, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has not concluded any long-term studies on the subject; as of now, the AAO states that using VR headsets should not hurt children’s eyes as long as VR is only used in small increments of time.

If you’re considering purchasing a VR headset, it could be a good idea to start by looking at headsets that are compatible with an iPhone or Android phone or a Nintendo VR headset. These devices are usually designed for smaller heads and allow you to access some of the same games you can get on more powerful and popular headsets at a lower price point.

Top Virtual Reality Games for Kids

When you’re purchasing games in VR for kids, it’s important to take the same precautions that you would with regular video games, meaning that you should consider the subject matter of a game and look at its rating before deciding if it’s a good fit for your child. That said, you’ll find that there are quite a few fun games in VR that are suitable for kids and adults alike.

  • Pierhead Arcade:  Available on the HTC Vive, Valve Index, or Oculus Rift, Pierhead Arcade has an old-timey feel and includes arcade games like Skee-Ball, whack-a-mole, and more.
  • Candy Kingdom VR: This VR kids’ game is available across platforms, and while it’s a shooting-gallery-type game, it’s more kid-friendly thanks to its plot and aesthetic; players shoot at enchanted candies to defeat an evil witch.
  • Tilt Brush: Build creativity and create amazing visuals that you can bring to life on any VR platform with Tilt Brush. This VR painting program allows kids and adults to create 3D drawings that you can walk around and within.
  • Cloudlands: VR Minigolf: You can play miniature golf from the comfort of your home with this virtual reality kids’ game. It’s easy to pick up and full of bright and colorful courses that offer great fun for the whole family.
  • Smashbox Arena: This game is part multiplayer dodgeball game and part first-person shooter that has multiple modes and arenas. Missiles are used instead of balls, but at its core, it’s still dodgeball, and there’s nothing graphic here.
  • Fantastic Contraption: Kids and adults can build their own contraptions to navigate every level using components you receive from a cat. Once you create your contraption, you can test it out to see if it works. If it doesn’t, you can take it apart and try again; this game is all about problem-solving.
  • The Lab: The Lab was designed to introduce users to VR by presenting a variety of challenges at a research lab. You’ll find multiple fun games using different play styles, from using a slingshot to repairing a robot and more.
  • VR The Diner Duo: This collaborative game is a great way for two people to play together, one using the VR headset (the short-order cook) and the other at a computer using the keyboard and mouse to control the waiter. The goal is to prepare the food and bring it to the patrons as quickly as possible without ruining the dish, and every level gets harder.
  • Astro Bot: Rescue Mission: This VR game is only available on the PlayStation VR, but it’s a popular game for kids that’s worth a look if you have this headset. Players control a robot searching the world for friends while defeating monsters.
  • Beat Saber: This is a fun game for the whole family across VR platforms, in which you hold two lightsabers and need to chop through blocks to the beat of the music. Since the playtime is as long as the songs, it’s easy to limit kids’ playing time.

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