When you were a kid, virtual reality was something you only heard about in movies. Back in your day, if you actually wanted to get scared by a monster you had to imagine it or wait until Saturday’s Creature Double Feature. Thanks to technological innovation (also known as Facebook buying Oculus Rift and Google inventing … cardboard), your kid’s digital imagination might be limitless, and researchers have some concerns about what that actually means.
Stanford University partnered with Sesame Street and used Oculus technology to study, among other things, what it does to the perceptual system of a child. Based on the director of lab Jeremy Bailenson’s findings so far, the answer is: it kinda messes with it. Most recently he noted that when children are exposed to a virtual experience, a week later 50 percent of them remember the event as real. As early as 2009, his data showed that virtual reality caused significantly more false memories in elementary schoolers than any other type of imagery. If you thought their imaginary friend was a little creepy, get ready to deal with their imaginary double life.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1E_Ndt9kssg expand=1]
On the flip side, virtual reality is the way of the future and running from that will get you nowhere that can’t be meticulously recreated and visited by your kids through VR contact lenses. Bailenson (along the parents signing their kids up for his experiments) believe that more research is the key to figuring out how to harness this technology for educational and therapeutic purposes, instead of just using it to trick your family into thinking they went to Disney World.
[H/T] CBS News