What parents should know about the VR gear kids want

This guide will help you figure out what makes sense for your family's interests, needs and budget when it comes to virtual reality.

From the inexpensive Cardboard headset to the expensive PlayStation VR headset, virtual reality headsets are available in a range of prices.

You have a few options to choose from if you'd like to try it out or swim with the VR giant fish.

Are you thinking about giving your family a taste of virtual reality for the holidays? You don't know where to begin? Don't worry.

This guide will help you decide what's best for your family, based on their interests, budget, and needs. You can choose to wade in knee-deep water or swim with VR's big fish.

Virtual reality is an ever-changing technology. Check out company websites, reviews by professionals on sites such as CNET and user reviews, before making the jump.

Virtual reality viewers offer three-dimensional images and the sensation of being in another place. They are handheld, inexpensive devices. The lenses of the viewers work by increasing the depth of static or animated images, but they do not let you interact with your surroundings. Download any "VR" app from iTunes or Google Play. Launch the app and place your smartphone in the viewer. Most viewers control the action using your phone's buttons or other basic input.

Key Features

The Best Prices for All Your Needs

Compatible with iOS and Android apps that are labeled as "VR". (Except for View-Master which uses specially-designed apps).

  • VR is more like a 3D film than a true VR

The best educational games and content

The number of apps available is limited. These recommendations and the New York Times VR Virtual Reality Stories are worth a try.

This category contains products that are suitable for children.

Google Cardboard (14.99 dollars)

This cardboard-based handheld device is an innovative way to experience virtual reality. Use any smartphone with iOS or Android VR applications. Google offers a variety of viewers, such as the steampunk Google Tech C-1 VR Viewer ($14.99).

SmartTheater Virtual Reality headset ($19.99).

The viewer is comfortable and has adjustable lenses. It also comes with a headband, and a trigger input that's easy to use. Includes a handheld cardboard motion controller that gives games a little extra oomph. Compatible with iOS and Android VR apps on most smartphones.

View-Master Virtual Reality (USD $29.99)

View-Masters are designed for learning, not gaming. They come in different packages, allowing you to explore dinosaurs and other topics like space, wildlife, etc. Each pack comes with insertable picture reels. Your phone is the power source. Compatible with iOS and Android View-Master apps on most smartphones.

Game-obsessed children can become game designers with digital tools

VR headsets are increasing in price and feature. The headsets are similar to viewers, in that they require you to download VR apps and then insert your phone into them. The headsets use the same apps that viewers do (except the Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream View) but give a more immersive and realistic experience.

Headsets have many advantages. They are more comfortable, have better lenses and often come with earphones. The headsets are often equipped with game controllers or can be used with handheld controllers. This gives you more choices in terms of apps than a simple viewer.

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Viewers are more expensive than this.

Compatible with iOS and Android apps that are labeled as "VR".

You can interact with the environment, but it is limited.

The best for educational content, movies, games and gaming

The number of apps available is limited. These recommendations and the New York Times VR Virtual Reality Stories are worth a try.

Check the minimum age requirement before buying.

This category contains products that are suitable for children.

  • Merge VR Goggles ($79)

The big purple headset has dual input buttons and audio ports for easy gaming control. Compatible with the majority of iOS and Android VR applications.

Google Daydream View (79 dollars; available November 2016)

This lightweight, plush headset is made of fabric and designed for Google's new Daydream VR platform. Platform includes Daydream compatible phones (such the company's Pixel Phone), apps and controllers. Daydream View includes a controller, and the company claims that there will be 50 apps available at launch. These include games, educational content and streaming services.

  • Samsung Gear VR ($99)

Gear VR is designed exclusively for Samsung smartphones. It has an input pad built into the headset, and it works with Bluetooth controllers. This allows you to navigate through games quickly. Compatible with Gear VR compatible games (including Minecraft Gear VR Edition).

Virtual Reality Headset VR Kix ($49.99).

The Kix is a great option for high-quality VR on any smartphone. It has individually adjustable lenses, a snug fitting, and a tray that you can customize according to your phone. Compatible with the majority of iOS and Android VR applications.

Video games are a great way to help children with special needs.

You can buy the PSVR if you do not already own a PS4 or the PlayStation 4 Pro, both of which are brand new for the holidays. The PSVR headset combined with the power of the console creates an immersive and interactive VR experience.

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Only available on Sony PlayStation

  • Fully immersive and interactive, but may cause motion sickness

The games are mature, but there are many, such as Battlezone, Final Fantasy XV, Battlezone VR, Batman Arkham VR and Resident Evil 7.

Sony recommends a minimum age of 12 years old.

This category contains products that are suitable for children.

PlayStation VR Launch Bundle (499.99 USD)

Includes everything you need for your PS4 to become a VR machine. This includes a headset with a camera and two motion controllers. It also comes with a game.

  • PlayStation 4 Slim (299.99 dollars); PSVR sold separately

This slimmer, newly designed version of PS4 has better graphics, a lighted control, and is quieter.

  • PlayStation 4 Pro (399.99 dollars); PSVR sold separately

The Pro-Enhanced version of the game offers better graphics, faster action and is optimized for specific "Pro" enhanced games.

What parents should know about technology addiction

Oculus Rift or HTC Vive are two VR headsets that sound ominous. The VR headsets are powerful and provide an immersive experience. Some call them "the Holodeck", referring to Star Trek's alternate reality. Both require powerful, high-end PCs that can cost up to $500.

Key Features

  • Super expensive

  • Compatible games are required (for instance, Everest VR requires a Vive) and powerful computers

Enjoy full interactivity in your environment

The Assembly, Deus Ex Mankind divided and other mature games are examples.

Valve says the Vive "is not for children" and that Oculus Rift has a minimum age of 13 years.

This category contains products that are suitable for children.

HTC Vive (799)

Steam is owned by Valve and the HTC Vive is made by that same company. Steam has a few Vive-exclusive games that take advantage of the headset's unique capabilities.

  • Oculus Rift ($599)

Includes everything you need to turn VR into a reality, except for the computer. This includes a VR headset, a controller, a remote control, cables, and an Xbox controller.