Internet safety start-up Zeeko says more work is needed to understand virtual reality (VR) and has received €100,000 in funding to evaluate the effects it has on children’s health.
Founded in 2013, Zeeko works with parents and children to promote a healthy balance for children using screen devices and the internet. The company, received the funding through the Horizon 2020 SME Innovation Associate Programme.
Due to the affordable costs of VR hardware, the technology is “increasing in popularity” with children.
Others have shown that VR can be employed to treat children’s emotional and relational problems such as depression and anxiety.
Zeeko’s project will recruit a group of teachers, parents and children aged ten to 12 years through primary schools in Ireland to participate in an ethnographic study.
The study will be carried out both in schools and home environments using techniques previously tested for the study of children’s use of digital devices.
Children’s activities with VR will be video recorded in different everyday scenarios, such as lessons at school, completing homework and leisure time.
The recordings will then be discussed with the children to explore their experiences. Parents and teachers will also be involved in group discussions and interviews to examine their opinions and concerns about the potential of VR as an educational tool.
Marina Everri, head of research at Zeeko, said “very little is known” about the impact of VR on the body, cognition and social relations, especially during a child’s development.
“More research, such as the research we are about to commence, is needed to understand the interplay of children’s individual characteristics, their relational and cultural context, and the opportunities and challenges offered by VR technology,” she added.