September 20, 2021

Monmouth University, Texas Tech, Wesleyan University and Washington University in St. Louis have decided not to use technology to keep students safe in video games, the schools announced Monday.

The decision to pull the plug comes amid a rash of high-profile incidents involving people who have gotten hurt or killed playing games that use virtual reality technology, including in a case at a high school in South Carolina where a 16-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in the foot.

“The technology has already played a major role in many of our communities, including our schools, and we’re concerned that it could become a more pervasive part of the lives of students and educators in the future,” Monmouth President Mark Barden said in a statement.

“This is the first time in the history of the institution that we’ve made this decision to eliminate the use of virtual reality by students and faculty.”

Wesleyan University President Michael Curry said in an email to faculty that his school will work with Monmouth to ensure that technology remains safe for students and employees.

Monmouth and Wesleyan declined to discuss the decision to end the use, which the universities said would have happened “within days of the decision.”

WyoTech University, a Christian college in Wyoming, has already announced it will no longer use virtual gaming to train its employees.

A spokesperson for Wyo Tech did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wesleyan and Monmouth are among about a dozen universities, public colleges and universities across the country that have announced they will phase out their use of technology to train employees in virtual reality.

In February, Stanford University announced that it would discontinue use of VR training technology for faculty and students.

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that virtual reality training was inappropriate for young children.

In April, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for the state to ban the use VR training equipment for students at public schools.

“The training of school employees, such as police officers, is an important part of a school’s education,” de Blasio said in April.

“It is the most effective way to teach students about safety and to keep them safe from predators and other dangers.

The training is important and should continue to be a part of our education, but we must protect children from predators.”

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