ViRMa: Virtual Risk Management

The project started August 1st 2021 and will end December 31st 2024

The aim of ViRMa is to explore how children develop risk assessment and risk management skills through risky play and other childhood experiences.

In ViRMa, this will be investigated in a safe and ethically appropriate way by using virtual reality (VR), eye tracking and motion capturing. The project will develop realistic VR situations for the children to handle. The child’s risk management will be compared with background information of childhood experiences such as play, physical activity, and child care/school. The results will provide knowledge on how children develop risk management skills, and how to prevent accidents/injuries.

Globally, progress has been made regarding injury prevention among children. However, injuries remain the leading cause of death for children and efforts to support children’s health, including injury prevention, must be multi-faceted. A promising approach includes children’s own ability to assess risk. Play appears to be an ideal activity for children’s learning, as it allows the players to test out risky behavior or situations without the severe real-life consequences. Risky play has therefore emerged as a topic of interest for researchers, parents, child care practitioners/teachers and policymakers over the last twenty years.

Research indicates that children need risk experiences to learn risk management skills. It can be thought of as a muscle that needs to be built and exercised. From a different angle, there are indications of negative effects of children being overly protected; that curbing risky play and autonomy can increase the likelihood of anxiety, in childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

Expected outcomes include cutting-edge technological solutions to examine children’s risky play and motor skills. ViRMa will provide new insight into how children assess and manage risks and learn from experiences. Such knowledge addresses fundamental challenges in the research field and can expand our understanding of child development.

Project partners are: Queen Maud University College (project owner), NTNU, Kanvas, SINTEF, Nordic Neurotech AS, University of British Columbia, and Colorado State University