There is little research on children and immersive virtual reality. Our research seeks to examine how young children behaviorally and socially respond to immersive virtual reality, and the characters within it. We have conducted an extended review of the literature that currently exists in this realm and are preparing a white paper on the “state of the art” of the overlap between developmental psychology and VR. Moreover, we have run a series of studies that will contribute to a better understanding of children’s experiences with this new technology.
In our current children’s research study, children interact with a virtual character either via non-immersive screen (i.e. television) or in immersive VR. We then measure the type of social and physiological reactions that they have to the character (e.g. emotional responses, enjoyment, sharing).
This research extends previous work in the lab (Segovia, K.Y. & Bailenson, J.N. (2009)) that has shown that immersive virtual environments can influence false memory acquisition in preschool age children differently than traditional media. As we continue our research with children in VR, we will explore the psychological, social, and behavioral effects of immersive virtual environments. We are working in collaboration with Dr. Jelena Obradović, in Stanford’s School of Education, as well as partnering with Sesame Workshop.