Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality Will Turn Kids into Zombies! Just Like Movies, Advertising, Video Games, and Rock Music Did!

Is it too soon to panic over a thing kids barely have access to, yet? No, don't be silly.


virtual reality
Credit: Janitors / photo on flickr

Virtual reality goggles are just now reaching the consumer market (with hefty price tags) and there's already "But what about the children?" fretting.

In what is surely a preview of what will eventually become a chorus of media nanny worrywarts, Naomi Schaefer Riley took to the New York Post to express concerns because, well, little kids are easily scared and virtual reality is a thing that can scare them:

Unfortunately, we have no idea what the effect of putting these headsets on kids will be. And the manufacturers seem to acknowledge that. Samsung's manual for its Gear VR reads: "Not for use by children under 13. Watching videos or playing games with the Gear VR may affect the visual development of children. When children, age 13 or older, use the Gear VR, adults should limit their usage time and ensure they take frequent breaks. Adults should monitor children closely after using the Gear VR if children feel discomfort." Ha!

What are the chances such a device would be in the home of any kid and they wouldn't actually get the chance to use it? Pretty slim. But parents should beware. Kids who are still getting used to what is a part of the real world may not be ready for a virtual one yet.

The headline for Riley's piece, "Virtual reality will completely transform children into zombies," is total clickbait. There isn't so much as a single word in her musing that suggests that VR will dull their wits. In fact, her fear is the exact opposite—she's worried that virtual reality is far too intense for children. Then, weirdly, her personal experience suggests that the problem solves itself anyway (children themselves are inclined to opt out of experiences they find too intense—even when adults don't recognize the fear factor).

But Riley also worries about virtual reality being marketed toward children. This might explain where the headline came from. McDonald's had a special virtual reality toy in its Happy Meals in Sweden, and little inspires the fear that we're zombifying our kids quicker than a fast food chain giving out free knick-knacks.

But given that actual virtual reality googles run into the hundreds of dollars, let's be a bit skeptical about the idea that little kids in Sweden are getting them as free toys. Indeed, a look at what McDonald's is actually offering is nothing more than an updated version of the old Viewmaster toys from our own childhoods, using a smartphone instead of little paper and plastic reels. If a parent should worry at all about what this toy might do to their kids, it would probably be more likely to cause a headache due to eye strain.

Though Riley's piece is actually so reasonable to the point of obviousness (and therefore irrelevance), we will most certainly see the same level of fearmongering about the impacts of virtual reality on children and teens as we have from movies, music, video games, comic books, advertising, smartphones, or pretty much anything that engages the imagination of the young that is not a parent, government authority figure, or school textbook. The fear that the young are being influenced by entertainment or ideas that parents cannot control—and even worse, do not completely understand—has been part of our culture forever. This will be the next extremely predictable push.

Fortunately, we now have a generation of parents who grew up in arcades and playing Nintendo and Playstation. So even though virtual reality is a relatively new phenomenon (failed efforts in dying arcades in the 1990s notwithstanding), we have a class of adults now that understand this basic form of interactive entertainment, indulged in it, and turned out just fine (well, mostly) and are best equipped to manage their children's exposures.

Riley doesn't suggest any government intervention here, but we should nevertheless worry that somebody is going to decide down the line that regulation or some sort of bureaucratic nannying should come into play and set the rules for a child's exposure to this technology.

NEXT: CIA Wants Its Narrative Back, Live-Tweets bin Laden Raid Five Years Later

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  1. You want a moral panic? You ain’t seen nothing yet:…..-security/

    1. Porno is a NATIONAL SECURITY threat!!! Combine that with VR, and the terrorists will TRULY HAVE WON…

      1. Appropriate Dennis Miller Quote:

        “You know, folks, the day an unemployed iron worker can lie in his Barca Lounger with a Foster’s in one hand and a channel flicker in the other and fuck Claudia Schiffer, it’s gonna make crack look like Sanka.”

        1. Scott Adams had a similar observation – “As soon as virtual reality becomes cheaper than dating, mankind is doomed.”

          1. But, but, but……Malthus!

          2. Perhaps I’m a hopeless romantic. But I thought people dated because they actually like other people. Whores are probably already cheaper than dating in a lot of cases if all you measure by is pussy.

            1. [Points at Zeb]


    2. ISIS calls on Muslims to draw swords because “the flocks of blind sheep fear losing their animalistic societies and carnal cultures that serve their lusts?”

      Now, *that* is funny!

    3. Wait for’s opinion.

    4. The brain remembers this pleasure and wants to repeat it.

      God damn it, brain, get a grip.

      1. Additionally, there was more gender inequality towards women in amateur porn than in professional porn.

        Damn amateurs. That said, apparently professional porn is the last bastion against people’s (amateurs’) actual desires.

        1. there was more gender inequality towards women in amateur porn

          What does that even mean?

          1. the amateurs don’t even get 77cents on the dollar.

      2. It’s the hand that’s usually getting a grip.

    5. The comments…don’t read them.

    6. Crusty is public enemy number one! All the rest of us must get in line.

    7. I’ve seen a massive uptick in these dumb anti-porn articles ever since Time ran an article claiming porn causes erectile dysfunction like 2 weeks ago.

      There is no actual scientific evidence porn causes erectile dysfunction, but people on Reddit’s No Fap message board think it does, so it must be true.

      1. Reddit’s No Fap message board

        This is an actual thing? I thought everyone on Reddit was down with fapping.

            1. I can’t believe you had never heard of these sad prudish perverts. Of all people. I expected better of you.

              1. Of all the things I can do, reddit isn’t one one of them. And I might have thought that NoFap and the Men Going Their Own Way guys were one and the same.

            2. Kids in the Hall? There’s a guy in this thread who’s basically the general from Dr. Strangelove.

              “They aint got sperm which is a vital substance, so nofap won’t do any use for them. Same as too much masturbation won’t make them fucked up weirdoes.”

              “Chakraberty describes the composition of the semen as follows: “The protein substance consists of nucleoproteins, traces of mucin, albumin and a proteose, and is relatively richer in nuclein than any other part of the body. The mineral bodies are calcium, phosphorus, sodium chloride and potassium.” It is thus clear that emissions of semen can withdraw considerable minerals from the body, and so predispose to mineral deficiency, in addition to the withdrawal of lecithin, cholesterin and nucleoproteins.”

              “Men’s eternal force of life and survival is believed to be conserved in semen. The ‘excessive’, ‘unnatural’, or ‘immoral’ semen loss can negatively impact on health in general and sexual health in particular (28?30).”

              MUH ESSENCE

              1. LO-Fucking-L, that’s the funniest and dumbest thing I’ve read since the last time Am Soc showed up in a thread.

                1. My favorite part is when they claim that pre-modern tribespeople believed men can be ‘robbed’ of their semen, so it must be true:

                  “By observing cross-cultural similarities regarding semen loss, Herdt wrote of Sambian men, “the psychosocial phenomenon of semen depletion, a culturally-transmitted belief that men’s sexual contacts rob and empty them of their semen, maleness, and eventually life itself is known from pre-modern and preliterate societies, including our own” (26)”

                  1. It just keeps. getting. dumber…

                  2. And you’ll get hairy palms and go blind too.

                  3. men’s sexual contacts rob and empty them of their semen, maleness, and eventually life itself

                    Are you saying this isn’t true?

              2. MUH AQUA-PERMANENCE

          1. It’s a very, very sad place filled with people who can’t get dates, think they’re addicted to porn, and obsess if girls unfriend them on Facebook.

            So, a libertarian site?

          2. Getting Unfriended on Facebook and Why You Shouldn’t Care (self.NoFap)
            [?]cambels26 days 33 points 9 hours ago
            Facebook has damaged natural human social behavior so much. It has a lot to answer for.

            [?]nofapmario22 days [score hidden] 28 minutes ago
            Facebook? You mean people using Facebook.
            No people, no Facebook.

            [?]skeeter1234 -2 points 4 hours ago
            Facebook Western Civilization has damaged natural human social behavior so much. It has a lot to answer for.

            [?]TorAnonymousOnion95 days [score hidden] 2 hours ago
            Because of political correctness.

            What in the shitcock is this blather?

            1. “Girls would like me if ___________ didn’t exist.”

              Just the usual loser excuses.

            2. What in the shitcock is this blather?

              That’s what happens when people don’t jerk off.

      2. Move it or lose it.

    8. Are we sure this isn’t someone trolling The Federalist?

      “A recent study at the University of Amsterdam analyzed 400 of the most popular pornographic videos found on popular online porn sites since 2013. The study found that objectification was depicted more often for women through instrumentality; however, men were more often objectified through dehumanization. Also, men were shown more often as dominant and women submissive. Additionally, there was more gender inequality towards women in amateur porn than in professional porn.”

      Uh…isn’t amateur porn the porn made by *actual people?* So if there’s more gender inequity in amateur porn than professional porn, doesn’t that indicate that this gender inequality already exists in the broader society and porn isn’t causing it?

      1. I agree, above.

      2. Are you really surprised? Conservatives can only hold back their inner moral scold for so long.

      3. She’s complaining that more things aren’t going in dudebutts, dude.

        1. She doesn’t have to go far to find plenty of that sort of thing.

        2. So’s Irish.

      4. I don’t think that’s a safe assumption. It seems likely that people who choose to put videos of themselves fucking on the internet are not representative of the general population. Though I suppose it’s possible.

        That and a lot of “amateur” porn isn’t just real couples doing their thing.


      “Arguably, their consent is under duress because it is in response to the violence of their passions or a psychological response to a past event; or under coercion because of their enslavement to the field of work (the inability to escape), or made while they are under the influence. So, although they argue it is freedom, their consent is not.”

      Got that? You can’t really consent to being in porn because *your own passions* are coercing you into it.

      You’re coercing yourself into pornography! You’re your own slave!

      1. I’m sure they’ll use that same argument for the whole prostitution = sex trafficking thing, if they haven’t already. Especially as it applies to situations where there’s no pimp and/ or legalized prostitution (like in Nevada).

        These fuckers won’t be happy until they’ve stripped everyone of their agency and reduced everyone to some form of “victim.”

      2. Calm down. Standard “false preferences; false consciousness”.

    10. The link to “Porn addiction may cause brain damage” led to a white supremacy site.

    11. Oh Christ, The Federalist. Who’s the crazy broad who wrote a piece for them about how only sex that might get you pregnant is sexy, or something along those lines? It was bonkers.

        1. Natural sex involves plenty of intrigue, which sometimes even borders on terror. You think it’s exciting to play with blindfolds and cute little commercial handcuffs? Please. Try volunteering for a real adventure: the maternity ward, and everything that comes after. How can such momentous changes unfold from something as deceptively simple as sex? That, my friends, is mystery and intrigue.

          She probably wants to bang convicted felons just for the extra risk involved.

          1. She’s half right. Have you ever heard the screams in a maternity ward? Safewords are for pussies.

            1. Been there for three deliveries myself. Watched the little purple lizard people pop out.

              1. No one prepared me for seeing a slimy gray raisin. Of all the things I expected it to look like, it wasn’t that.

                1. I was waiting for the second one to say “Quaaaaiiiid, staaaaart the reactooooooor.”

                  1. And I was impressed by how locked-the-fuck-down they had the epidural cart. It’s like, I really wasn’t planning on stealing your fentanyl, you dicks.

                    1. Oh that’s to keep the nurses from stealing it.

                    2. WARTY WAS LOOKING FOR THE CLEN-B

        2. Want the thrill of a little danger in your sex life? Try giving it the potential to create human life.

          This is the best shit ever. “Sobriety is the best high!” “The coolest dudes follow the rules!”

          1. Also “Don’t plan to have children, just roll the dice and see what terror awaits.”

            1. Is it even hotter if you have a natural birth with a 20% or so risk of death?

              1. Warty, I know we like to joke around on this site, but you shouldn’t say something so wildly erotic. Rachel Wu is going to be fantasizing about death-by-childbirth for the rest of the day.

              2. I think what she’s trying to say is “I ain’t down with the anal!”

          2. You know there are communities on FetLife specifically devoted to impregnation sex fans, perhaps she should seek one out?

        3. With cheap, processed sex accessible from every flickering screen, we find ourselves embarking on a new kind of romantic quest: one in which sexual desire is itself the quarry.


    12. What the heck did I just read?

      The propositions are so absurd, it boggles the mind.

  2. “Lawnmower Man is in *your* head now!”

  3. Zombies? Passe. These days it’s misogynists, and – with distance – terrorists.

  4. VR won’t really be much of a thing until VR porn is available. I have no doubt that the best Japanese programmers are addressing the issue right now.

    1. Mexican ass-sluts doing it for weed, in Smell-o-vision!

    2. Which will lead to a need for immigrants, demographically, and thus lead to peace for all mankind. Kudos, porn.

    3. It’s already available.

      1. See, that didn’t take long.

        Way too go, Japan.

        1. Unfortunately it’s all tentacle rape porn.

          1. [Shrugs. Puts on headset.]

            1. [Takes off headset.]

              “Hey guys, you get to be the tentacles.”

              1. *Lathers KY on arms and legs

    4. They’ll create the best CGI tentacles.

    5. Yeah but then we get the moral panic about men prefering vr porn to shrieking feminist harp..errrr real women

  5. “Virtual reality will completely transform children into zombies,” is total clickbait

    Totally agree. A cynical headline designed to capitalize on the threat posed to children by actual zombies. But then who would read a nuanced accurate headline like – Virtual reality will transform your precious into an even fatter lazier dumber pig than you are raising right now – and who is already too slow to escape from zombies as is

  6. I’m surprised there’s no apparent outrage over VR (and to a lesser extent, earbuds) from the standpoint of blocking out “reality”.

    “At least with drugs you’re somewhat aware of your surroundings!”

    1. I would expect “do not engage in VR porn while crossing the street” ordinances to come to a city near you.

      1. Yes, *bumping* into cars. Problematic.

      2. Why aren’t we letting Darwinism take it’s course? That’s the worse part of those laws.

        1. Called “reverse dominance hierarchy”. The more “stupid” people (reproduce) and cooperate against “non-stupid” people the fitter they are. (Group-level selection.) Such an ordinance enhances that.

          1. Link (Pretty much the entire overview is relevant, not just that snippet.)

            Worth it? Half of all British men descended from one Bronze Age king.

            1. He must have had bad teeth.

  7. Solution:

    That was an easy problem to solve. If you’re worried about it, set rules about it for your kids. No need to fearmonger. Leave other people’s kids the hell alone.

    1. set rules about it for your kids.

      “What?! And lose their friendship or have them sue me?!”

    2. If you’re worried about it, set rules about it for your kids.

      You don’t even need to be a parent. Just listen to parents or even just observe families.

      Not only will kids opt out of an experience just for the hell of it as soon as they can walk and even earlier; they’ll fake fear or discomfort as an excuse to opt out of behaviors in which they should be participating. Matter of fact, well before they’re even capable of fully articulating their fear, they’ll use it to ply adults selectively.

  8. I wonder if VR goggles will go the way of Kinect?

    1. No. They’re here to stay. I guess the terrorists win.

      1. I suspect that the one place they’re being pushed the hardest: video games, will be the toughest place for them to gain a foothold.

        1. Vive sold more than 10k units less than 5 minutes after release and now they cannot keep up with orders. I’d buy one today if they could ship it to me today. As it is, I’ll wait until shipping catches up.

      2. They’re here to stay again.


        1. You’ll be wrong about that this time. They are here to stay until real AR comes out and you can just do the Total Recall sort of thing, no headset required.

  9. Who would have ever seen this coming?

  10. Don’t forget the comic book panic in the 1950’s. I’m looking forward to the Dr. Strange movie.

      1. I find it hilarious that people back in the early ’80s thought that a pussy rock band like Styx had backwards satanic lyrics. These people probably would’ve had their heads explode, Scanners style, if they’d heard some of Korn or Avenged Sevenfold stuff back then. Never mind the really hard stuff.

        1. The funniest thing I found was that people thought the Grateful Dead were satanic…not because of backwards lyrics, but because of forwards lyrics! See, they sang this song that said, “A friend of the devil is a friend of mine”, so they were promoting Satan worship!

  11. Vive has been selling pretty well. Not sure about Oculus. The problem with Vive is that they cannot keep up with the orders. If you order one today, you will be lucky to see it sometime in June, but I’m guessing it will be July. So much VR pr0n, so little VR headsets.

    1. Yeah, there’s a rift.

  12. They are NOT Anarchist! They don’t even know what it means! Nor does anyone in the media evidently. Every fucking time! Goddammit.…..n-seattle/

  13. Sure, a gaming system wherein a person must get up and physically interact with their environment is going to turn them into zombies. Get rid of this VR and bring back sitting on a couch with a controller in your hands, you monsters.

    1. You just don’t get it. This VR stuff is so real, the people will forget what’s real and not real you’ll have kids shooting real people with real guns and they’ll forget they’re not in the game anymore! Fuck, I thought those people were zombies!

  14. So does this mean the manager is guilty of sex trafficking?…..ended_pool

  15. This will be huge for flight simulators. You’ll finally actually be able to dogfight.

    And yes, all the children dying is a very small price to pay.

    1. You’ll finally actually be able to dogfight.

      As opposed to flying around randomly until, by pure luck, you get behind someone in a good firing position?

      1. Or clicking through 6 external views…

        …and then turning in the wrong direction anyway.

    2. No dogfighting game will ever be better than Chuck Yeager’s Air Combat. It’s impossible.

      1. Holy shit, I actually had that game back in the day. Ah, memories…

        1. That, and even further back in the way back machine: Microprose F-15 Strike Eagle.

          1. I loved that game, even more so because I was one of the flightline techs on the first Strike Eagles to come off the assembly line at Luke AFB (461st TFS: Deadly Jesters)

            1. I wasted many hours as a kid playing that game on a Tandy 1000TL.

              1. I think you mis-spelled “invested”.

      2. Oh man, that game was the business when i was like 10.

    3. Elite Dangerous already works with Oculus and Vive. So you can not only dog fight, you can do it in fucking space!

  16. Nothing beats a good old fashioned moral panic to keep the proles from noticing what a clusterfuck everything is. Not to mention all the opportunities for passing pandering, busybody laws and patting ourselves on the backs for “doing something for the children!” /politicians

  17. People are idiots who gorge themselves on bullshit.

    That is all.

  18. A German study that investigated the neural correlates associated with frequent?not addictive?viewing of pornography found that watching porn may shrink certain areas of the brain. The study finds that men who watch porn have less gray matter volume, and the area of the brain associated with processing rewards is smaller. Porn affects the neural response in the reward network of the brain, gray matter regions, motivations, and memory receptors by saturating it with dopamine. Dopamine causes the feeling of pleasure.

    The brain remembers this pleasure and wants to repeat it. This may lead to watching more pornography. Soon, the brain is accustomed to pleasure and pornography de-synthetizes the brain. It is no long aroused by the same pleasure. This leads some to hardcore porn to experience pleasure again. Additionally, since most porn is viewed on the Internet, Internet addiction “reduces impulse control, decision-making, and the ability to foresee consequences.”

    Addiction to pleasure-seeking could lead to porn addition. Porn addiction may cause brain damage.

    1. In the German study, are they viewing German porn?

      1. +1 “German scheisse video”

    2. First, dopamine isn’t the only neurotransmitter involved in pleasure although it routinely gets treated as such.

      Each one of those paragraphs has a “may” in a critical sentence which invalidates the hypothesis until tested and proved.

      Third, that study shows correlation between gray matter and porn. It does not suggest which is the result of the other.

      Fourth, addictive behavior cannot be evaluated in a vacuum. Rats will only habitually push the lever for cocaine when they have no other stimulation, like sex, companionship, or food.

      So much bullshit.

    3. I still haven’t got hair on the palms of my hands like the grownups said I would. I must not be doing it right.

  19. Well, certain activists are certainly safe from zombies.

    (explanation of the joke)

  20. Oh and these were the height of VR gaming back in the 90’s…

    And they actually made more money than any other games on the floor at Dave and Busters

  21. Didn’t you ever see that Star Trek: Next Generation episode with Barclay and the Holodeck?

    1. They have a sort of holodeck for VR out already. It’s a multi-directional tread mill with harnasses and bars around it to keep you from falling over.

      1. The thought of actually running all over Skyrim is . . . exhausting.

    2. Which one, there were several in Barclay’s Holo-addiction was explored

  22. On saturday I went to the ground breaking of UMaryland’s new computer building. The Oculus boys came from there and funded this big fancy building. I made a few cracks about how, if all their hype is correct, students wouldn’t need to shlep over to a brick and mortar building to get their professor’s wisdom. Someone said that the phermones help the education.

    Afterward I got a chance to try the system out. Very cool. Tried a fps demo and it was fun. It will take a bit of practice to avoid moving your body when you want the avatar to move.

    Won’t be throwing any money at this yet though.

    1. You can get up and move around with Vive. It has sensors, but I think so far it’s a pretty small area, something like 15×15′. But they’re working on adding more sensors. Problem is, it’s all wired so you aren’t going to too far unless you have some really long cables. And then you would fall over them I would think. They need to get wireless to the point that it will work while avoiding any latency. I guess you have to maintain an almost steady 90FPS to keep from getting motion sickness.

    2. I should also point out, I am feeling a bit peckish for the brains.

  23. $89 an hour! Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening?And i get surly a chek of $1260……0 whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my kids.
    Here is what i did

  24. Zombies, maybe. More likely it’ll turn them into virtual porn stars. Maybe even zombie porn stars.

    You think people are into weird stuff now? Oh-ho.

    This seems an appropriate time to post my favorite Lifetime movie. (Which is really saying something, since there are so many good ones.)

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