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). Read more about the event here.

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.

Before the salon took place in November 2018, we invited experts to share their visions about the ways VR and AR might impact childhood 10 years from now.

In May 2019, the Cooney Center published a report of salon proceedings. Download Immersive Media and Child Development: Synthesis of a Cross-Sectoral Meeting on Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality and Young Children here.

Kiley Sobel’s blog post about the report






View some of the spark talks presented at the salon:

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