As part of a recent software update, the PlayStation 4’s new Healthy and Safety disclaimers now include a message regarding Sony’s forthcoming PS4 based VR system PlayStation VR (PSVR). Specifically that it’s not to be used by anyone under the age of 12.

Although rapidly maturing and evolving, Virtual Reality is still in its infancy. As such there’s still so much we don’t know about the use of VR and its effects on a users physiology or indeed psychology. VR simply hasn’t been in the commercial domain yet.

Therefore, companies braving the frontiers of consumer virtual reality this year are understandably playing it safe in their messaging and setting of expectations for VR’s use when it reached peoples’s homes.

According to Eurogamer, the wording for the new Health and Safety message which has been delivered alongside a PS4 3.50 software update and it reads:

ps4-3.50-firmware-health-safety-psvr

 

Why Sony has chosen 12 years of age as the cut off point here is unknown. Perhaps it’s simply to do with the ergonomics of the headset, specifically that it simply won’t fit a child’s head. In any case, it joins other sage advice on ensuring you clear your VR space of pets, children or anything else that might fall victim to a flailing VR user. And of course, the expected warnings that users may experience nausea or blurred vision after VR sessions are included.

SEE ALSO
Facebook Reveals Latest Wrist-worn Prototypes for XR Input & Haptics

Oculus has included similar warnings at the launch of Rift applications for some time. Their guidelines for both Rift and Gear VR headset use by children is slightly higher, at 13 years of age.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.


  • The 12 years as cut off point is related to the psychological growth of children. I don’t think the size of a child’s head has anything to do with it.

  • Steve Dennis

    I feel like VR games and apps (possibly Vive aside due to chaperone) need to start with some kind of *visual* warning to clear your space of obstacles & pets, rather than a text based screen everyone is going to skip.

    The age cut off is a shame, though they’re probably just being cautious until proper research has been published on the subject.

    • Rogue_Transfer

      Though a “visual” warning would have to be carefully thought out… As (esp. children/teenagers) would be prone to kick out the way any ‘visual’ obstacles presented in the warning…

      I watched the Value Round Table video recently released with developers talking about the problem of people ignoring messages in VR even more than elsewhere, because the developers don’t know where the person is looking and (as you say) putting up a dialogue box (even, a visual one, like Nintendo often use on Wii Fit, etc.) quickly gets dismissed.

      (Most) people just don’t care enough when they want to get into the action. Being isolated in a virtual (visually empty) space is likely to fool the user into forgetting about (even those they are aware of as static) obstacles in the real area.

      For moving obstacles (pets & people), I think the only viable solution would be to have a Kinect-like sensor monitoring the whole play area and an automatic pause-screen (irritating) (or with slowing effect?) – but it would catch risks of back-stepping on a pet that’s deciding to lie down behind the player’s feet – that a front-facing camera can’t detect or show.

      Until then, VR users take care! Keep your pets out the room and listen for the doors to it being opened by someone and people to announce when they are getting up off the couch!

  • Bryan Ischo

    The best analogy I read is that using VR is akin to looking through binoculars, with regards to its effect on children’s visual system. So if you would let your child look through binoculars for 10 minutes at a time, you ought to be comfortable letting them use a VR headset for the same duration. I let my kids (aged 8 and 9) use my DK2 from time to time for short periods. I am not worried.

    • JrSlims

      While I don’t think there is any significant danger, binoculars are more akin to glasses and don’t cause a vergence-accomodation conflict like stereoscopic displays often can. That conflict is the source of concern when considering the developing eyes of children.

    • jbof4

      Im honestly not trying to come off rude, I just wonder if you don’t think there is a concern, then why do you allow your 8 & 9 year old to use “from time to time for short periods”. My 16 yr old want this VR but I am very hesitant due to the known side effects…..too
      early to tell

      • Bryan Ischo

        Because I wouldn’t let them look through binoculars for hours at a time either. The visual system is malleable and resilient so short periods of just about anything is likely to be harmless. Long periods, probably less likely to be harmless.

        Anyway, since I wrote that *two years ago*, I have let my kids play VR for up to an hour or so at a time. The limit mostly being how long I think they should play any video game in one sitting, VR or not. No problems to report.

        Also … what “known side effects”? I don’t know of any.

  • expdyn

    Is it radio frequency? Does anyone know how much EMF/ RF hmds put out?

  • brubble

    “Parents” let their 5 year old kids play GTA-V….

  • Bah, just fear of lawsuits, nothing else. What few things I’ve heard suggest it might help one’s eyes and visual acuity… but we live in an era where even sand is labeled as a carcinogen just to cover all of the legal bases.

    We should just skip the middleman and label all lawyers as a health hazard! The stress they cause is shortening our lives! lol