The impact of Metaverse on children’s lives is an issue that has attracted the attention of many people, and some companies have started to introduce themselves as virtual reality providers for children. Their initiatives are certainly praiseworthy, but there are undoubtedly some risks. In the following, we will provide you with more information about Metaverse for children, and we will discuss the impact of Metaverse on society and the lives of people, especially.
Concept of Metaverse
The word “metaverse” refers to a virtual environment, and since it is connected to the Internet, you can access it anywhere, anytime, through a computer or smartphone. The Metaverse we know now has similarities to what Stephenson (who invented the term metaverse) envisioned. With the difference that it is still in the early stages. But this has not made people and businesses turn to the world of Metaverse just to buy virtual real estate, play games, or even learn.
Metaverse offers the following facilities for children:
- Learning new skills
- Playing online games alone or with friends
- Taking virtual courses on educational platforms
- And other things
Here we can refer to the example of Minecraft, which introduces some concepts of culture to children through appropriate educational environments. Soon, children and teenagers will welcome Epic Games and LEGO games. However, Metaverse for children has disadvantages, the most important of which are the following:
- cyber bullying
- Reproduction of inappropriate content
Therefore, it will be the duty of parents and teachers to help small children to operate safely in Metaverse.
How should Metaverse be interpreted for children?
Some experts seem not optimistic about the impact of the Metaverse on children. By now, social networks have faced many problems: depression, self-harm, mental health problems, etc. Metaverse might be even worse than them. But on the other hand, it has countless benefits that can lead children’s lives to progress.
However, a study by the University of Southern California showed the opposite of these claims. This law specifies that games and virtual reality cause empathy and do not harm mental health, provided it is used correctly.
Advantages and disadvantages of Metaverse for children
Metaverse has several benefits for children, including:
- Understand abstract concepts in an engaging way
- Access to near-real hands-on experience to help children better understand their environment and how it works
- Improving children’s social skills
- Creating a safe and controlled environment for interaction and making friends
- The existence of a springboard for creativity and the development of children’s social intelligence
- Metaverse as a source of entertainment
- The bond between parents and children
However, it is the responsibility of parents to be aware of the potential dangers and take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of their children. This way, Metaverse will become an ideal place for discovery and learning.
Certainly, Metaverse for children has its strengths, but it will also have its weaknesses, which we will mention the most important ones:
- Cyberbullying (often child abuse)
- Lack of confidentiality and privacy issues
- Inappropriate content (violence, sexual content, hate speech, etc.)
- Creating dependence in the child due to its very inclusive and attractive nature
- Metaverse-related physiological and physical risks for children due to excessive use of VR headsets (dizziness, nausea, headaches, etc.)
- Unequal access creates an educational disadvantage for the disadvantaged
Protecting children and teenagers in the Metaverse
Parents must carefully monitor their children’s activities on Metaverse to ensure this is effective. So here are a few things to consider:
- Closely monitoring their online activities and what they see and do in Metaverse.
- Defining the rules and creating restrictions for the use of Metaverse
- Tips on how to behave when interacting with other people online (including encouraging them to be polite and considerate)
- Helping to optimally manage the time allocated to the virtual world and the real world
Also, producers and companies are responsible. Of course, expecting too much from them seems like an illusion, but they should consider the following parameters:
- Content moderation
- Reporting and suppression of violations, with clear mechanisms for dealing with such reports
- Designing virtual reality devices and metaverse systems suitable for children’s comfort and well-being
- Integration of anti-virus software in virtual reality devices and metaverse platforms for children
When we talk about Metaverse for children, we cannot escape the issue of parental protection and responsibility. However, this responsibility should be shared with the technology companies. Because by ignoring the risks children face on their platform, they will surely lose their customers.
How can the Metaverse affect learning?
With the help of such technology, students can easily understand abstract concepts more engagingly. Metaverse also offers an almost real hands-on experience that can be very useful for children and help them better understand the world around them and how it works.
In addition, Metaverse can improve social skills in children. Social media is often blamed for increasing loneliness and depression in children. On the other hand, Metaverse has the potential to provide a safe and controlled environment for children to interact with their peers and make new friends. In addition, it has the potential to encourage creativity and develop social intelligence in children.
Finally, it can be an excellent way for parents to bond with their children and teach them different skills and knowledge in a low-stress environment. As long as parents know the potential dangers and take the necessary steps to keep their children safe, the Metaverse can be an excellent place for children to explore and learn. Also, unequal access is one of the main concerns about the Metaverse. Not all children will have access to the Internet or a virtual reality headset; without such access, they may be at a disadvantage educationally and socially.