A total of 646 participants from 47 countries took part in the survey. The majority of participants were from the USA (n = 255), UK (n = 153), Canada (n = 51), Germany (n = 20), Australia (n = 17), the Netherlands (n = 13), Italy (n = 12) and Austria (n = 11). All other countries had less than 10 respondents each. A total of 641 respondents reported their gender, of which the majority were male (n = 535) or female (n = 94), and 12 identifying as ‘other’ (e.g. non-binary, transgender, gender fluid, etc.). Finally, 632 respondents indicated their age: 18–19 yo (n = 78), 20–24 yo (n = 91), 25–29 yo (n = 110), 30–34 yo (n = 126), 35–39 yo (n = 100), and 40 + yo (n = 127).
Device access and usage
There was a significant association between VR access and gender (χ2 = 84.765, df = 2, p < 0.001), with 91.6% of males and 91.7% of others having access to a VR device in comparison to only 56.4% of females. However, there was no significant association between VR access and age, nor console access and age or gender (p > 0.05).
Among respondents with VR access, the majority felt their usage of VR had increased during lockdown (χ2 = 351.83, df = 4, p < 0.001; Fig. 1) and that it helped to keep them occupied (χ2 = 489.34, df = 4, p < 0.001; Fig. 2). This was true for all gender and age categories (p > 0.05).
There was a significant difference in the proportion of respondents using VR for different activities (χ2 = 237.531, df = 4, p < 0.001; Fig. 3a). The most popular use of VR was for video games, with 98.7% of respondents using VR for this activity. This was followed by fitness (75.7%), socialising (55.2%), watching films (47.8%) and meditation (37.2%). Within activities, there were significant differences in how many hours per day people engaged (all p < 0.001; Fig. 3b-f). Of those people who spent time on each activity, the majority spent less than 1 h / day on fitness (48.2%), socialising (48.1%), watching films (50.6%) and meditation (70.7%). The exception was playing video games, where the majority (46.6%) of users spent 1 – 2 h / day on this activity.
Using VR to play video games was very popular with the majority of respondents (Fig. 3b). There was a significant difference for the amount of time spent playing video games according to gender (χ2 = 53.218, df = 14, p < 0.001) and age (χ2 = 88.707, df = 35, p < 0.001). The majority of females (43.1%) spent < 1 h / day playing video games, compared to the majority of males (47.4%) spending 1–2 h / day and the majority of others (36.4%) spending 3–4 h / day. With regards to age, the majority of 18–19 yo (36.5%), 20-24yo (38.7%), 25–29 yo (52.7%), 30–34 yo (41.5%), 35–39 yo (49.4%) and 40 + yo (53.2%) play between 1 – 2 h / day. The next highest proportion of respondents play video games between 3 – 4 h / day for 18–19 yo (29.7%) and 20–24 yo (32.0%); however, for the remaining age groups this drops to < 1 h / day (25–29 yo, 22.0%; 30–34 yo, 36.8%; 35–39 yo, 24.1%; 40 + yo, 24.8%).
There was also a significant difference in time spent socialising in VR according to gender (χ2 = 69.553, df = 14, p < 0.001) and age (χ2 = 55.127, df = 35, p < 0.001). The majority of ‘other’ respondents (36.4%) spent 1 – 2 h / day using VR for socialising, whilst females and males spent no time (42.9% and 45.6%, respectively) or very little (< 1 h / day; 28.6% and 26.5%, respectively). Using VR for socialising was most popular with 18-19yo (72.1%) and least popular with 25-29yo (47.7%).
There was a significant difference for time spent in VR for meditation activities according to age (χ2 = 44.157, df = 30, p < 0.001). Meditation was most popular with 40 + yo (46.8%) and least popular with 18–19 yo (24.2%). Where respondents were using VR for meditation activities, this was typically for < 1 h / day for all age groups.
There were no gender-related differences for meditation activities, nor gender- or age-related differences in the time spent on VR for fitness or watching films (all p > 0.05).
Of those respondents with VR Access, the majority were positive about the usefulness of VR for fitness (χ2 = 185.21, df = 4, p < 0.001; Fig. 4) and mental health (χ2 = 416.27, df = 4, p < 0.001; Fig. 5). This was true for all gender and age categories (p > 0.05).
Intensity of fitness activities
There was a significant difference in self-reported intensity of physical activities according to device type (χ2 = 102.256, df = 2, p < 0.001; Fig. 6). The majority of both VR (48.4%) and console (42.1%) users engaged with moderate intensity. However, a greater proportion of VR users engage in vigorous activity (43.0%) than mild activity (8.6%), a trend which is reversed in console users (38.0% mild, 19.8% vigorous).
A significant difference was observed in the proportion of participants reporting weight gain, weight loss, or no weight change during lockdown (χ2 = 76.962, df = 2, p < 0.001; Fig. 7, top). Almost half (49.9%) of respondents did not experience any change in body weight, whilst 22.6% experienced weight loss and 27.4% experienced weight gain.
Of those respondents with VR Access, the majority reported no change (51.4%) or a decrease (22.5%) in their weight (χ2 = 77.900, df = 2, p < 0.001; Fig. 7, middle). For these respondents there was no association between body weight and VR Fitness Time or VR Fitness Intensity (p > 0.05).
Similarly, of those respondents with console access, the majority also showed no change (47.7%) or a decrease (24.2%) in their weight (χ2 = 47.403, df = 2, p < 0.001; Fig. 7, bottom). But again, there was no association between body weight change and console fitness Intensity (p > 0.05).