Future of Childhood Salon: Immersive Media and Child Development

On November 7 and 8, 2018, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University, and Dubit hosted the inaugural Future of Childhood Salon on Immersive Media and Child Development. At this day-and-a-half workshop, we discussed the future of immersive media—i.e., virtual, augmented, and mixed realities—in the lives of preadolescents before these technologies become ubiquitous among children this age. A cross-sectoral group of approximately 60 child development and media researchers, learning scientists, child health experts, hardware and content developers, educators, journalists, and funders examined these emerging media via a cascading series of considerations, organized around necessary choices in order for VR, AR, and MR—from such time they are approved for use by pre-teens—to be unique, essential, safe, engaging, and beneficial to children’s socio-emotional, cognitive, and physical development. We discussed an agenda for needed research, a framework for responsible development of immersive experiences for children, and industry-wide best practices that can evolve over time via cross-sectoral partnerships.


  • Establish what is known about VR, AR, and MR’s positive and negative impacts on young children.
  • Identify gaps in the current research and set an agenda for further investigation.
  • Envision ideal futures for these immersive media in society.
  • Broker research-development partnerships.
  • Brief funders on the latest research on VR, AR, and MR to promote children’s learning/development.
  • Lay the groundwork for a statement on responsible practices for immersive media developers.


The salon brought together a cross-sectoral group of approximately 60 researchers (learning sciences, child development, neuroscience); practitioners (educators, pediatricians); and developers (hardware and software, educational and mass market), and funders (foundation, government, capital).

Outcomes and Deliverables

One desired outcome is for participants to apply what they learn at the salon to their current work, and to motivate them to keep young children’s best interests in mind when developing new immersive experiences. Another desired outcome is for participants to continue to communicate and collaborate with professionals outside of their sectors to conduct needed, new research. The Cooney Center will compile and disseminate a report of salon proceedings, including the R&D agenda, best practices, and industry-wide standards that emerge from discussions.


View some of the spark talks presented at the salon:

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