5 benefits of virtual & augmented reality for teens

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By 2025, the global virtual reality market will be worth $20.9 billion, and the benefits of VR and AR for teens? Priceless. 

This fall, we are thrilled to launch a brand new course, AR/VR Design Certificate in Unity with NYU Tandon School of Engineering, designed to help students access the educational benefits (among many others!) of exploring this dynamic field. 

For those who could use a quick terminology crash course: virtual reality (VR) is an immersive, simulated world that users can interact with, often by using hardware like an Oculus headset. 

Augmented reality (AR) adds digitized enhancements to what users see as they experience daily life; some examples of augmented reality include Pokémon GO, phone camera filters, and some features on Google Maps.

So, what exactly can young people gain from utilizing this technology? How can learning the ins and outs of virtual and augmented reality kickstart an interest in STEM and potentially launch a future career or internship? 

The short answer is: this field and its many associated industries have seen astronomical growth in recent years, and research indicates that this is only the beginning. 

As of this year, it’s projected that 58.9 million people will use VR and 93.3 million will use AR at least once per month in the US; to put that in perspective, roughly 17.7% and 28.1% of the total population. 

And while commercial virtual reality technology has technically been around since the 1960s, it wasn’t until around 2015 that VR and AR as we know them today became widely available to the public. 

Just a few years: billions of dollars, hundreds of millions of VR and AR experiences, and - most importantly of all for the next generation of STEM enthusiasts - countless opportunities to learn, innovate, and develop the next big thing. 

5 unique benefits of VR and AR for teens

We can’t wait to see what the future holds for teens who dive into VR and AR! Doubtlessly, there are many more educational benefits and future career opportunities out there, but here are five notable ones to keep in mind when encouraging teens to explore game design, coding, and more. 

STEM becomes STEAM 

STEM: science, technology, engineering, and math gets a boost of art in the virtual and augmented reality space. Far too often, it’s assumed that the arts and humanities (and individuals who thrive in these areas) are out of place in the tech world. 

In VR and AR, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Just take a look at VR in the film industry to see how this creative tech is already changing how blockbuster hits are being made and enjoyed.

VR and AR experiences inherently include elements of design, which can encompass everything from art to animation, user experience design, and determining the most meaningful ways users can interact with the technology. After all, VR and AR are meant to not just be used but experienced, and it takes creativity to craft the best possible experiences for potential consumers. 

Not only are interdisciplinary thinking and problem-solving some of the top STEM skills for today, they are a natural part of VR and AR tech, and by learning about them, teens have a unique opportunity to build those in-demand skill sets. 

Build knowledge for a rapidly growing industry

Worldwide, the total market size of VR and AR technologies is predicted to grow 7.7 times between 2018 and 2022. 

Let that sink in for a second.

Teens today are uniquely positioned to jump aboard the rocket ship that is VR and AR technology. As digital natives, they have useful background knowledge and foundational skills, and by building on this foundation, they’ll be poised to enter an industry growing at lightning speed. 

UX is cited as one of the most significant areas for growth in VR and AR, and who better than teens, for whom UX is often second nature, to think of ways to make those strides?

And just think about the careers and jobs needed to power these growing companies, not to mention the next major tech startup we don’t even know about yet. Of the many STEM jobs of the future, VR and AR programmers, developers, designers, technicians, and product managers are sure to be among some of the most exciting out there. By building knowledge now, teens can prepare for careers right on the cutting edge of tech. 

Explore the new frontier of apps and gaming

Of course, VR and AR go well beyond the world of gaming and smartphones, but there’s no doubt that they - quite literally - bring this industry to life in unprecedented ways. 

Teens interested in game design, game art, and other means of levelling up their skills will love creating their own AR games with C#, for instance, and they can look to the Pokémon GO phenomenon for inspiration. VR games designed with Unity can bring their ideas to Oculus headsets, and the next Beat Saber could be theirs to create! 

Plus, social media and other interactive apps open more opportunities for VR and AR enhancement. Snapchat’s filters, a widely popular AR feature, is just one of many ways the way we socialize and document our lives could be shaped by this tech. Studies show that 77% of users would like to see more social aspects to VR and AR, and by thinking like UX designers, teens can drive those innovations. 

Harness tech to help others

Increasingly, VR and AR are being used for much more than just entertainment. From healthcare to advocacy groups and news agencies, this technology is making a real difference in the world. 

Virtual reality is already being used in medicine, for instance, to ease patient anxiety and help provide the best treatment. VR experiences can also help build empathy for marginalized communities and bring educational journalism right into people’s homes. 

Teens looking to make a positive impact can utilize this technology to raise awareness for causes they care about, provide valuable services, and assist communities around the world. 

Open doors to a new generation of entrepreneurship and ecommerce

Right now, there are over 1 billion smartphones out there that can instantly provide augmented reality experiences and easily buy things. That’s to say nothing of the in-game enhancements made possible by VR headsets, and many other ecommerce possibilities like memberships and exclusive experiences.

Don’t get me wrong: traditional online shopping is convenient and useful (and it certainly reached new heights in the past year), but there’s no denying that some things you simply need to see before purchasing. 

Now, what if the ability to see, hear, and try out (maybe even try on!) different products were at your fingertips? This question is driving research into how VR and AR technologies are boosting sales and opening up new possibilities for budding entrepreneurs. 

VR and AR: Innovation becomes reality

There’s never been a better time to explore VR and AR, and with the right expert guidance, possibilities are limitless! 

Our new AR/VR Design Certificate in Unity with NYU Tandon School of Engineering offers curated curriculum from NYU Tandon's renowned faculty, renowned industry experts, and a virtual learning experience guided by our rockstar mentors.  

This intensive learning experience invites teens to collaborate with like-minded peers, build sought-after skills with Unity, the industry-standard software, and earn an official certificate to feature on their resume or online portfolio. 

Learn more here! 

A photo of Virginia

Virginia started with iD Tech at the University of Denver in 2015 and has loved every minute since then! A former teacher by trade, she has a master's in education and loves working to embolden the next generation through STEM. Outside the office, you can usually find her reading a good book, struggling on a yoga mat, or exploring the Rocky Mountains.