You might not know whatthe metaverse is, but your kids are likely in it (or will be soon). In the past year, the metaverse has received a lot of media attention and corporate investment.
For all the excitement around this network of immersive virtual experiences, little has been said about the potential dangers the metaverse might pose for kids.
Common Sense has published this report to begin to identify these concerns. Drawing on interviews and research from some of the leading experts in virtual and augmented reality, the report lays out many of the potential harms children and teenagers will face as they engage with the metaverse.
It also gives clear guidance on what companies, policymakers, and parents and caregivers can do to minimize these harms.
The metaverse is a series of connected digital worlds in which users can interact through first-person avatars. Some enter it with virtual reality devices, but many use just a smartphone or computer screen.
Every day, millions of children experience a corner of the metaverse through games like Roblox, Fortnite, and Minecraft. The metaverse is quickly populating with users of all ages, and companies are also setting up shop, buying digital real estate and designing ad campaigns.
Metaverse platforms have imposed few rules in these new worlds. Most avatars roam innocently, playing, chatting, and creating, but others take advantage of the digital freedom and the young profile of users to perform inappropriate, harmful, and damaging acts.
You have read about (or experienced) harassment in traditional online environments, like a forum or social media site. Now imagine that harassment with users wearing VR headsets, fully immersed in digital abuse.