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Consumer Products

How VR is piquing the interest of kids and teens

iKids Weekly takes a closer look at a recent survey by US-based firm Touchstone Research that reveals the potential of virtual reality with kids. Interestingly, one of the areas with the most promise when it comes to the demo is educational applications.
July 9, 2015

American online research firm Touchstone Research recently surveyed 500 kids and teens ages 10 to 17 from across the US for its Youth and Family research panel to find out what they know about virtual reality and what they want to do with the technology.

The timing of the survey comes at a key moment in the long-running evolution of VR as a number of major companies in the space are readying headsets for the consumer market this year and into 2016.

In a pre-E3 press conference, Facebook-owned Oculus finally revealed the consumer version of its upcoming Rift headset that will launch early next year. Although pricing hasn’t been announced, the package will include an Xbox One wireless controller, streaming access to Xbox One games, and two Touch controllers for secondary hand-control options. Notably, Oculus plans to invest US$10 million in indie development, so there will be plenty of games and VR experiences delivered down the road.

But are kids clamoring for VR games or are they looking for different immersive experiences?

For Touchstone’s survey, kids were initially asked what they knew about VR. Respondents were then asked for their opinion on the tech after being directly exposed to VR through images, videos and text.

When asked what they know about VR, 79% responded that they’ve heard of the technology, while 68% revealed an understanding of it and 47% said they know some or a lot about VR.

Not surprisingly, the kids surveyed are most aware of major players Oculus and Samsung Gear VR—both pioneers in the field—although Sony’s Project Morpheus, Google Cardboard and Microsoft’s augmented reality HoloLens system are quickly making an impression.

A significant 88% said VR is “very cool” or “off the charts cool,” but they had some safety concerns around dizziness, the headsets being too heavy and cumbersome, and the risk of physical injury from bumping into walls or falling down.

While the potential of VR in industries such as gaming, education, mobile, entertainment, fitness, e-commerce, social and travel has been widely documented, what kids would like to do most with VR, according to Touchstone’s survey, may surprise some developers with their eye on the youth market. The top two things kids said they would most want to do with VR tech is visit another country and explore a place they could not visit in reality, followed by going on an adventure and traveling back in time.

These responses clearly support the huge educational potential of virtual reality.

Interestingly, only 57% of kids surveyed said they would most want to play a video game, online game or app by themselves, and 55% chose watching a 3D movie or TV show as their top VR activity.

When it comes to the types of games kids do want to play in VR, the majority (51%) said “life” games (think  Minecraft or The Sims), followed by action, sports, fighting and virtual world-based games.

But what hardware and software companies likely want to know most is whether or not kids want their parents to purchase VR devices, or if they’ll spend their hard-earned cash themselves.The survey found 75% want to ask for a VR device, but only if it’s priced on par with gaming consoles.

Check out the full Touchstone Research infographic below:

 

About The Author
Jeremy is the Features Editor of Kidscreen specializing in the content production, broadcasting and distribution aspects of the global children's entertainment industry. Contact Jeremy at jdickson@brunico.com.

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