Study Highlights Parental Concerns and Actions on VR Privacy Risks

Recent research has shown that although more minors are using virtual reality (VR) apps, many parents do not understand the privacy risks that come along. The study was conducted by researchers including Abhinaya SB, a PhD student at NC State. It aimed to uncover how much parents know about these risks and what actions they are taking to protect their children.

The researchers interviewed 20 parents of children under 18 who use VR apps. They found that most concerns among parents were about physical health, such as potential damage to eyesight or injuries during use, and the risk of children interacting with harmful individuals online.

While some parents were aware of the risk of excessive personal information being shared, few were concerned about companies collecting data from VR usage, such as biometric data or voice recordings that could be misused.

The study highlighted that while parents did discuss online safety with their children and monitored their VR activities by sharing accounts, they rarely utilized built-in parental controls.

Reasons included a lack of technical knowledge or a belief that their children were more capable of managing the technology. Some parents expressed a desire for more comprehensive parental controls that would report on the child's activities within the apps.

Parents mainly felt responsible for their children’s safety regarding VR usage but also believed that VR companies should provide better parental control tools. They also said that policy makers and schools should play a part in protecting and educating children about the risks of new technologies.

Despite recognizing the potential risks, most parents did not actively use available tools to mitigate these risks effectively. This finding suggests a need for more education for parents about VR technologies and more user-friendly safety features from VR companies.

The research, set to be presented at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in San Francisco, calls for a collective effort from parents, educators, developers, and policymakers to ensure children's comprehensive protection in VR environments.

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