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Understanding Parents’ Perceptions and Practices Toward Children’s Security and Privacy in Virtual Reality

🌈 Abstract

The article explores parents' perceptions, practices, and expectations regarding children's security and privacy (S&P) in virtual reality (VR). It aims to address three research questions: (1) What are parents' perceptions of children's S&P in VR? (2) What are parents' risk mitigation strategies for their children's S&P in VR? (3) What are parents' expectations toward perceived critical stakeholders and future S&P-enhancing features in VR?

🙋 Q&A

[01] Parents' Perceptions of Children's S&P Risks in VR

1. What are the main types of concerns parents have regarding their children's VR usage?

  • Parents primarily expressed concerns about physical health issues (e.g., eye strain, physical injuries) and online safety risks (e.g., predators, cyberbullying) rather than S&P-specific risks.
  • Parents generally lack awareness of S&P risks in VR, largely due to the perception that VR is still in its infancy and therefore risks are a "future thing."
  • Among the identified S&P risks, parents are more concerned about children's self-disclosure in social interaction contexts than data surveillance by companies.

2. Why do parents discount S&P concerns for their own children's VR usage?

  • Parents believe VR is still a "privilege" and there are not many users to worry about, especially compared to more mature technologies like social media.
  • Parents of older children (aged 13+) trust their children's maturity in using technology and are less concerned about VR risks.
  • Parents tend to overgeneralize S&P rules across all digital devices, failing to recognize the nuances between VR and other technologies.

[02] Parents' S&P Risk Mitigation Strategies

1. What are the main strategies parents use to address S&P concerns in their children's VR usage?

  • Parents primarily rely on active strategies, such as verbal education and setting rules, rather than passive strategies like using parental controls.
  • Sharing VR accounts and managing children's app access is a common proactive strategy, especially among parents of younger children.

2. What challenges do parents face in using passive strategies like parental controls?

  • Parents face significant technical constraints with parental controls in VR, such as unstable connections and low engagement.
  • Parents have to navigate complex tradeoffs between children's autonomy and S&P, with some prioritizing S&P over autonomy, especially for younger children.

[03] Parents' Expectations Toward Stakeholders and Desired S&P-Enhancing Features

1. What are the key stakeholders parents identify as responsible for enhancing children's S&P in VR?

  • Parents, VR companies, governments, and schools/educators are seen as the critical stakeholders who need to work together in a multi-stakeholder ecosystem.
  • Parents are considered the most accountable stakeholder, but they lack understanding of VR's S&P practices and policies.

2. What features do parents desire to improve children's S&P in VR?

  • Real-time S&P alerts and feedback, AI-based harm detection, secondary companion apps, and regular usage reports.
  • Parents have reservations about these features due to concerns over companies' data surveillance practices.
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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