Sony has added a new health and safety notice to the PlayStation 4, and in the process updated its guidance for virtual reality headset use by children.
Reddit user KGrizzly spotted a new virtual reality safety notice had been added in the 3.5 beta firmware health and safety section.
This PS4 update states that Sony's PlayStation VR headset should not be used by children under the age of 12.
So how does that advice compare to the Oculus Rift and the Vive?
Let's start with the Vive. We've had a look at official documentation provided by Valve's virtual reality experience, and while it does not carry a specific age warning, it does include a "use by children" instruction.
Here's what it says:
- The produce was not designed to be used by children. Do not leave the product within the reach of young children or allow them to use or play with it. They could hurt themselves or others, or could accidentally damage the product.
- The product may contain small parts with sharp edges that may cause an injury or which could become detached and create a choking hazard for young children. Consult your doctor immediately if any parts of the product or accessories are swallowed.
- If older children are permitted to use the product, then adults should monitor them closely for any negative effects during and after their use of the product. Do not allow older children to use the product if negative effects are observed. Adults should also ensure that older children avoid prolonged use of the product.
As for Oculus Rift, it states the headset should not be used by children under the age of 13.
Here's the relevant blurb, taken from Oculus' health and safety documentation:
- This product should not be used by children under the age of 13. Adults should monitor children (age 13 and older) who are using or have used the Headset for any of the symptoms described below, and should limit the time children spend using the Headset and ensure they take breaks during use. Prolonged use should be avoided, as this could negatively impact hand-eye coordination, balance, and multi-tasking ability. Adults should monitor children closely during and after use of the headset for any decrease in these abilities.
Oculus' guidance lines up with parent company Facebook's age restriction for its social media platform, as revealed by CEO Brendan Iribe in a June 2015 interview with VRFocus.
"We put a warning on right when you put it on and the age of 13 was something that made a lot of sense when we became a part of Facebook, their age is 13 as well. And so we just felt 'let's start at 13, let's evolve the technology more, let's build more confidence, in the health and safety side of it. And eventually, one day, we definitely want to have Oculus for kids, especially for all the educational use of this."
There are a variety of concerns around virtual reality headsets and their use by children, including the potential for motion sickness and eye strain.
Typically, the headsets allow users to move the lenses closer together and farther apart for better focus.
However, the minimum distance between the lenses may still be too far for some children to focus comfortably on the displayed image, which could cause eye strain.
The news comes ahead of next week's Game Developers Conference, where Sony is expected to announce a release date and price for PlayStation VR.