Virtual reality headsets may not have quite displaced the television as the workhorse of the home entertainment system or the traditional console as the object of most video game hype. But they’re closer than ever before, and parents are starting to catch on to the possibilities of VR for kids. The best VR headsets for kids are no longer expensive novelties, they’re attainable hardware with robust game libraries, and they’re sure to be on tons of Christmas wish lists this year.
As a relatively new product, deciding which is the best VR headset for kids can be an overwhelming proposition. The best to think about it is where the computing power comes from: a smartphone, an onboard computer, a gaming console, or a gaming PC. Besides the quality of the experience, the main differentiator between these categories is price. There’s a world of difference between a cheap VR headset powered by a smartphone and the best VR headset for PC, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t solid choices at every level.
Within those categories, it’s the quality of the gameplay experience — determined by the ease of use of the controllers, the comfort of the headset comfort, and audio-visual quality — and the available games and apps that separate the best VR headsets for kids from the rest.
No matter your product preference, remember that while some of our recommended headsets are deemed safe for kids 12 and older, others are rated “no young children.” VR headsets might not fit snugly on smaller heads, and more importantly, kids can do damage to their vision by using them. Before you buy anything, read the safety instructions carefully and make sure you’re getting the right product for your family.
Best Smartphone VR Headset
We're going to go ahead and recommend you skip the dirt-cheap folding cardboard options and pay just a bit more for a much better experience even on the low end. The Google Daydream View works with any Daydream-enabled phone (most modern Android phones are included) and has an impressive app library because, well, it's Google. It's made from a soft, breathable fabric that gives you more playing time before sweaty eyes set in. The included controller adds another dimension to gaming and lets you make menu selections without turning your head. It's recommended for use by kids 13 and older.
Best Stand-Alone VR Headset
One of the more affordable all-in-one VR systems on the market is also one of the best. The Oculus ecosystem is mature enough that a solid selection of games, from indie titles to Star Wars lightsaber duels, are available. And the hardware is up to the challenge, with a display that has 50 percent more pixels and redesigned controllers, though you can also use your hands in some games, which is very fun. And if you want to share your experience with the family, you can even cast the VR image to your TV through the Oculus app. For all but the most serious VR gamers, the Oculus Quest 2 is an all-in-one package that provides hours of immersive entertainment. It's recommended for use by kids 13 and older.
Best Console VR Headset
If you already have a PlayStation 4, the Playstation VR is a great choice. This bundle comes with a headset, controllers, and two of the 500 VR games available for the PS4, Iron Man VR and Star Wars: Squadrons. And if you're one of the lucky few to snag a PS5, you'll be happy to hear that this set is compatible with the newest PlayStation too. It's recommended for use by kids 12 and older.
Best VR Headset for PC
For a VR headset that connects to a PC and does most everything well, look no further than the Oculus Rift S. The ergonomics of the headset and the twin touch controllers are solid, and the Oculus library of games will make it hard for kids to get bored. Best of all, and unlike many PC headsets, there's no need to set up external motion sensors, which means your kids won't knock them over and you won't have to move anything to use your kid's VR gaming space as, say, your home office. It's recommended for use by kids 13 and older.
Best VR Headset for Yourself that You’ll Claim Is for Your Child
Sure, it's pricey, but the Cosmos Elite represents the pinnacle of PC-based VR gaming. Its 2880 x 1700 pixels are packed so tight that it eliminates the 'screen door' effect with inferior products, while integrated headphones ensure immersive adventures. An easy flip-up design allow you to take a time-out when the phone rings or your child calls.
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