By Caris Horton
A Perth developmental psychologist is concerned about the unknown effects of a virtual reality education program being trialled in some WA primary schools.
Psychologist, Jennifer Bamber-Mayes, says more research is needed into the effects of using VR headsets on young children for education purposes.
The Commonwealth Bank is funding a two month trial program in which Year One and Two students in 24 schools across Australia, from Broome to South Yarra, will be handed an educational storybook and a VR headset to learn about money concepts at home.
A smartphone with an associated app has to be inserted into the device before children can access the immersive world.
The trial is part of the bank’s Start Smart initiative in which children are taught about money management skills through educational programs.
Ms Bamber-Mayes says while it’s a more immersive learning environment, more research into the long-term effects on children needs to be done.
“I would like to see if it has the potential for addictive behaviour like video games but without research we just don’t know,” she said.
“You would also have to have a look at the impact on their vision too, because they are so young.”
She also has concerns the Commonwealth Bank is funding the trial to link children up with a familiar brand name early, ensuring loyalty.
It comes at a time when sales of other interactive technology purchases like electronic, touch-screen whiteboards are going down due to cutbacks.
“Due to the lack of federal and state government funding, interactive technology requests from schools have slowed from the previous high levels,” says Paul Fisher, Perth branch manager of education technology distributing company, ELB.