Study: Virtual Reality and Children (Study #2017-2446)

Start Date

July 1 2017

End Date

March 19, 2019

Current Status


Project Client:

PI: Nancy Jennings
Assoc. Professor, A&S Communication

Laura Dell
Asst. Professor, CECH eLearning

Tony Liao
Asst. Professor, A&S Communication

Project Lead:

Chris M. Collins
UCSIM | Center for Simulations & Virtual Environments Research

Project Sponsor:

Chris M. Collins
UCSIM | Center for Simulations & Virtual Environments Research

Project Description

The purpose of this research study is to better understand how children experience virtual reality.

With tremendous growth in virtual reality (VR) in the consumer market, early adopters are likely to use VR devices and content in their daily lives. Since children are often early adopters of technology, it is expected that VR will reach this audience quickly and widely. As with each new technology, the same questions about the effects and uses of VR are being asked, particularly about children. To date, far more VR research has been conducted with adults than with children. While the primary focus has been on VR within various medical and clinical settings with older children and teens, Bailey and Bailenson (2017) contend that VR has “unique affordances” that spread beyond these setting and encourage extending the research on VR and youth into everyday life experiences. As such, this study will provide a richer understanding of the use of VR in the lives of children in a number ways: 1) to expand the range of use from medical settings and practices to everyday household use for education and entertainment; 2) to explore VR use in young children who may have different expectations and experiences with media content and devices than older children and teens; and 3) to employ an interdisciplinary team of experts in children’s media, child development, communication, and technology with an industry partner in children’s media production to test and improve content for children.

This research will examine the use of VR with young children using educational age-appropriate STEM media content in a non-formal learning environment. A special game based on the show called Dino Dana, an educational television program about prehistoric creatures targeted to children ages 4-7 years, will be created in collaboration with the show’s producers, Sinking Ship.

How to Participate in the Study


Dear Parent,

Thank you for your interest in this research study about virtual reality (VR) gaming. This project will help us understand how children experience virtual reality. If your child is 6-8-years-old, for this project (Study # 2017-2446), your child would have to play a virtual reality game about dinosaurs while wearing a VR headset. Your child will also answer questions about their VR experiences. You will be asked to complete a 10-minute survey about your child. This entire session will take approximately 1 hour. It will be done at the Center for Simulations and Virtual Environments Research (UCSIM) located in University Hall at the University of Cincinnati.
Here are some important things to know about this project:

• No medications will be used as part of this project with your child.

• Nothing will be done to upset your child.

• No information about you or your family will be shared with your child’s school.

• It is not expected that there will be exposure to risk.

• All of the research team members have had a background check and have been fingerprinted to ensure your child’s safety.

• It won’t cost you or your family any money.

•  Your family will be given a $25 gift card to keep and snacks will be provided to your child during the interview if your child takes part in this project.

•  You will receive free parking at the University of Cincinnati.

If you are willing to let your child take part in this project, please reply to this message to coordinate a time for a research session – most likely to take place on weekends. Questions? Contact Nancy Jennings at or by phone at 513-556-4456.


Nancy Jennings
Associate Professor
University of Cincinnati


Directions to Study Location

The UCSIM | Center for Simulations & Virtual Environments Research is located on the University of Cincinnati’s East Campus at 51 Goodman Street, 400 University Hall, Cincinnati, OH, 45221-0658.  Enter University Hall and take the elevators up to the 4th floor, and enter the double glass doors that lead to UCIT’s offices.  The receptionist at the front desk will let us know when you arrive.

For more detailed directions, including maps and shuttle information, see the Directions for Visitors page.