Real & Virtual Worlds — Concepting Week #3

Based on the feedback from Week 2, I decided to research into limitations in designing a VR experience for children such as their cognitive skills and physical development.

Cognitive Development

Due to children’s cognitive skills still developing, their reasoning capabilities are far weaker as compared to an adults. This is based on Piaget’s Development Theory which defines the different stages of development as:

  • Preoperational Stage — 2 -7 years old.
  • Concrete Operational Stage — 7– 11 years old.

Preoperational stage of development which occurs at the youngest age bracket, relates to the theory that children can interpret the meanings of symbols and shapes but are unable to understand another persons perspective. In addition to this, they are still learning to read, write and speak so therefore their language skills are also extremely limited.

On the other hand, within the later age range, the child’s cognitive skills have developed to the point in which they are able to draw conclusions and relate to content shown to them.

This links to my project as the ability for the user to be able to make sense of and understand the underlying message and facts provided by the experience is extremely important as it is designed to be educational. Therefore an age range of 7+ may be most appropriate.

Physical Development

Children below 11 are still developing physically and therefore aren’t suited to wearing a VR headset as their skulls are forming and their eyes need to strengthen. Using a headset below the recommended retailing age of 12/13 years can cause vision problems from eye strain, motion sickness, seizures, balance problems and difficulty distinguishing the virtual world from reality. This can combated by utilising VR under strict parental or guardian supervision with children aged 10 and upwards.

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