Virtual Reality in Early and Preschool Childhood



Russian and foreign studies suggest that there is a significant increase in the use of computer programmes by preschool children, and that children are generally introduced to computers at a much younger age, practically in their first months of life. Even though the majority of sociological studies show that computer technologies are in high demand by small children and their parents, psychological exploration into this phenomenon is both insufficient and contradictory. Some researchers argue that computer games have a destructive effect upon the child’s development, while others present data proving their positive impacts. We suggest that sociological quantitative methods may not be appropriate in this case and that comparative analysis of the child’s activity with virtual and real material would provide a better understanding. The main part of our paper focuses on this very analysis. We describe outcomes of a study showing that children’s interactions with electronic gadgets differ substantially from the more traditional forms of child activity and cannot compensate for the lack of the latter. In the final part of the paper we provide some recommendations on how to choose computer programmes for children of late preschool age.

General Information

Keywords: computer technologies, computer games and programmes, early and preschool childhood, child activity with real and virtual material

Journal rubric: Developmental Psychology

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Smirnova E.O., Matushkina N.Y., Smirnova S.Y. Virtual Reality in Early and Preschool Childhood. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie = Psychological Science and Education, 2018. Vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 42–53. DOI: 10.17759/pse.2018230304. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Elena O. Smirnova, Doctor of Psychology, Рrofessor of the Department of Preschool Pedagogics and Psychology of the Faculty of Psychology of Education, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia

Natalia Y. Matushkina, Associate researcher, «Play and Toys» research Centre, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:

Svetlana Y. Smirnova, Researcher of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Contemporary Childhood, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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