Being a parent, fun as it can sometimes be, is also incredibly difficult.* And for a parent who can’t be there for everything — because of work, travel obligations, divorce or separation, or other circumstances — it can be even harder.
But while modern life has brought with it a whole host of new stressors and challenges, it’s also given us some decidedly futuristic tools to help — which explains Bedtime VR Stories, Samsung’s latest app.
It’s designed to give parents the ability to read bedtime stories to their children within the boundaries of a virtual reality environment. In the accompanying promo video, the child wears a Google Cardboard headset and the parent wears Gear VR — the kid’s includes a playful character mask — and they can interact with each other even if they’re kilometres apart. (You can tour the app’s virtual world in a 360 degree video.)
According to the Verge, the app is being given a trial run with families based in the UK, and Samsung’s website notes that it’s “currently being developed for full release”.
Upon first glance, the app feels freakishly futuristic and dystopian — think rooms full of people all wearing virtual reality headsets — and raises the question of, “Has it really come to this? Do we have to involve the children?”
But the shitty reality here isn’t the use of virtual reality to bridge the gap between a parent and a child. (We’ve been using technology to make parenting easier for a lot longer than this.) The shitty reality is that we need to do this in the first place, because for a lot of parents, it’s not feasible to sit next to little Susie every night and read her a bedtime story. The future may be bleak, but the gadget, in this case, is only trying to help.
Perhaps we’ll just have to wait for teleportation. Or, you know, decent parental leave policies.
* I do not have kids of my own, but this is what my own parents have told me. I am inclined to trust them on it.