Virtual reality is becoming increasingly popular among consumers and businesses. VR creates immersive, simulated experiences for users by placing them in a digital environment. It can power various genres of video games, and people use headsets for fun, fitness, and social interaction.
However, virtual reality is still relatively new. As it evolves, more use cases will emerge. What are some existing applications, and which populations benefit from them? Users from every age group can use VR but may use it for different purposes.
How Children, Adults, and Seniors Benefit From VR
Virtual reality is commonly associated with the gaming industry, as major companies like Meta, HTC, Sony, and others are creating VR-based video games, which typically appeal to a younger audience.
Younger people often use VR, but many hardware manufacturers include an age suggestion in product manuals. For example, the Meta Quest device is not suitable for children under 13 years old, according to its Safety Center website.
Meta suggests that children younger than 13 have a higher risk of injury and other adverse effects when using virtual reality. These suggestions are not grounded in medical science, but they provide information on which age groups the hardware best suits. In other words, children under 13 years of age can use VR headsets, but some risks are involved.
Here are the benefits of using VR for each age group, including children over 13, adults between 18 and 65, and seniors over 65.
Virtual reality provides myriad opportunities for teenagers 13 years or older. For example, VR:
- Allows children to socialize with other players in an immersive environment, unlike any setting in the real world;
- Teaches children to abide by rules and guidelines, enhancing their self-discipline;
- Shows children what activities are appropriate to participate in using technology;
- Encourages children to be respectful digital citizens;
- Helps children see things from an entirely different perspective.
Here are some benefits adults between the ages of 18 and 65 will reap when they use VR, as virtual reality:
- Provides opportunities to socialize and allows users to develop a sense of community with other players in the virtual environment;
- Allows users to visit places all over the world and in remote locations;
- Lets users practice mindfulness using VR-powered relaxation apps;
- Treats various phobias, such as arachnophobia, acrophobia, claustrophobia, and more;
- Is accessible to people with disabilities and can be used for learning, entertainment, and stress relief.
Older adults over the age of 65 can also benefit from virtual reality in several ways, including:
- Reduced feelings of loneliness and social isolation;
- Improved mental health in seniors;
- Allowing seniors to relive moments from their past;
- Bringing seniors a sense of joy and entertainment;
- Helping older adults learn new skills and keep their minds sharp;
- Reducing or eliminating the need for some medications, such as those that treat anxiety or other mental health conditions.
Common Virtual Reality Applications Based on Age Group
What are some common VR applications these age groups might be interested in?
The list below includes some ways children can use virtual reality:
- VR has numerous applications in an educational setting. For example, teachers can set up virtual field trips, create interactive activities in the classroom, teach students how to improve their social skills, and more.
- Virtual reality can help child therapists address various conditions. For example, it could be useful for treating children with autism, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder, chronic pain, or anxiety and depression.
- Children can use VR to play age-appropriate, fun, entertaining or educational games.
- Virtual reality can open up opportunities for children to engage in physical activities, as long as the environment is spacious and free from hazards.
Here are some examples of VR applications for people ages 18-64:
- They can use virtual reality to increase their level of physical activity when playing VR-based fitness games.
- Adults can participate in advanced, VR-oriented training when starting a new job.
- They gain exposure to VR technologies at their current job and use them practically to achieve the company’s goals.
- They can shop online for new products.
- They can join the metaverse using VR headsets.
- Adults can attend telehealth appointments using virtual reality.
- People can use VR software specifically designed for mental and emotional well-being.
- Adults can join virtual meetings or speak with professionals offering financial services. For example, they can use virtual reality to save for retirement by virtually meeting with a planner. Millennials would benefit most from using VR to plan for the future.
Here are some ways seniors can use VR:
- It transports them to far-away places without leaving their home, helping those with limited mobility have enjoyable experiences.
- According to the Pacific Neuroscience Institute, VR games could potentially slow cognitive decline in adults, which delays dementia.
- Seniors can increase their socialization by interacting with other users, warding off feelings of isolation.
- They can use VR to engage in reminiscence therapy, stimulating a user’s sense of touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste. Older adults with dementia can use VR to recall people, events, and places they’ve visited in the past.
- Seniors can put on a VR headset to see what their future home will look like. Cloverwood Senior Living and Arnold Imaging created a partnership to use VR to show residents what it’s like to live in the Terraces at Cloverwood facility.
VR Applications for People of All Ages
Virtual reality is still in the early stages of development, but the market will grow in the next few years. People of all ages will be able to reap its benefits as it becomes more popular among consumers and businesses.
Virtual reality has limitless potential, so there’s no reason someone of a certain age should or shouldn’t use VR hardware and software.Guest Post
About the Guest Author(s)
Devin Partida is a technology writer with a focus on technology, business, mixed reality, and more. She is also the Editor-In-Chief of ReHack.com