What does the term "virtual nurseries" refer to, and do today's parents make use of such things?
This story is even more relevant today than it was when it was written. "Virtual nurseries" refers to allowing technology to rear our children in place of allowing human parents to do so. "Virtual reality" is alive and well today, developing from the technological advances with computers. As yet, we don't have virtual nurseries such as the one described in this story, but there's no doubt that our technology could definitely bring us something similar in the near future. Parents today do use technology to keep their kids occupied. When television became a part of American life, many people worried that parents were using it as a babysitter for their children. Then came the computer and video games. We all know the concerns of opening up our lives and the lives of our children to the whole world. Many people are concerned that our children have been desensitized to violence and cruelty due to the subject matter they view on television, the video games they play, and the information they're exposed to on the internet. There's no doubt that some parents use technological tools to babysit their children so they can do other things. Bradbury's point is that nothing can ever substitute the human touch and the human connection.
This is a great question! While I don't think technology is up to the nurseries described in the story--I think of the Sci Fi shows like Star Trek where they can go to the whatever deck and tell the computer to create whatever place they want to go and it does it--parents absolutely do use television, computerized gaming systems, and other media to keep their kids occupied for them as they complete work, cook dinner, or other activities way from the kids.
Virtual nurseries are great. It allows parents tocheck on their children when they need to without having to be there. Daycares use these, which allows parents to get on the web and see their children from work. It provides parents a sense of security when they are away from their children, in my opinion.