A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
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What's it about?
NYT VR - VIRTUAL REALITY STORIES THE NYTIMES is the New York Times' virtual-reality-viewing app. First, choose an experience, then wait for it to download; the first ones launched include an 11-minute video called "The Displaced" that featured the stories of three children whose families were displaced by war and conflict in Africa, the Middle East, and eastern Europe. Other videos take users inside a walk through New York City and through experiences created for advertisers including BMW Mini and GE. Next, choose whether you'll use your iOS device with or without a VR viewer such as Google Cardboard. After your download is complete, launch the viewer to watch a video that's viewable in all directions. Move the viewer to see the video above, below, and all around you. When text appears, it appears at three points in the experience -- to the left, right, and directly behind you -- so you can read subtitles in addition to viewing the landscape and people who surround you.
Is it any good?
Finding yourself standing beside a child as he runs through a refugee camp or perches on a wall by an old Soviet monument is emotionally affecting and fully delivered by this app. There are some moments when you catch the person holding the camera, and it's surprisingly exciting and emotionally affecting: It's quite a thing to look up and down and around and find yourself so completely immersed in someone else's world. With all that in mind, it's a heavy thing to share this experience with your kids. Some videos, such as "The Displaced," feature kids whose lives have been torn apart by war, which can be hard to talk about with kids; this app can be great for developing their perspective-taking and empathy, but be prepared to have some pretty intense conversations about what you see along the way. Also, some of the videos are more concentrated on selling products than telling news stories, so choose your viewing experience carefully. All that being said, if you take the time to incorporate thoughtful discussion before and after using the app, this could be a great vehicle for provoking thoughtful, in-depth discussions that help kids consider and examine what life might be like for people far away who aren't so different from them after all. Also note: Be careful standing up. You'll quickly find yourself wandering into a corner or stumbling over a desk, so planting yourself in a chair that spins might be a better option.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about virtual reality. What are the coolest things about it? Are there drawbacks? What are they? What might be some really helpful uses of virtual reality?
Talk about the news stories your kids encounter in the app and explain anything they might not understand or are curious about.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
- Subjects: Social Studies: cultural understanding, exploration, global awareness
- Skills: Emotional Development: empathy, perspective taking
Responsibility & Ethics: embracing differences, honoring the community, respect for others
Tech Skills: evaluating media messages, using and applying technology
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: December 7, 2015
- Category: News
- Size: 21.30 MB
- Publisher: The New York Times Company
- Version: 2.3.1
- Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 9.0 or later
- Last updated: December 10, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.