After the meta-verse for everyone comes the meta-verse for children, which does not lack advantages as well as disadvantages. Some companies have begun to position themselves as providers of the best virtual realities for children. Admittedly, their initiatives are commendable, but we are not unaware that this universe also has its share of dangers. Raising awareness of a shared responsibility between parents and promoters of metavers for children is one of the purposes of this article.
Invented by “Snow Crash” (1992) author Neal Stephenson, the word “metaverse” refers to a virtual reality environment. Because it is connected to the Internet, you can access it anywhere, anytime from any computer or smartphone.
The metaverse we know at the moment has some similarities to the one Stephenson imagined. Aside from that patchwork of online virtual worlds that act like ours nourishing environment is still in its infancy. But that has not stopped people and companies from getting busy in the meta-verse, if only to buy virtual real estate, play games or even train soldiers.
The meta-verse for children represents endless possibilities of :
- learn new skills;
- play online games alone or with friends;
- take virtual courses on educational platforms;
Here we can mention the example of Minecraft, which introduced some cultural concepts to children through appropriate learning environments. Soon, the duo Epic Games and LEGO will also be a hit among young people.
However, the child metavers has its drawbacks. To quote only:
- the proliferation of inappropriate content.
It was therefore up to parents and educators to help the little ones navigate safely in the metavars for children.
Some experts seem optimistic about the impact of metaverse on the child. Already, social networks landed with a lot of accidents : depression, self-harm, mental problems, etc. Kid Metaverse can be even worse than them.
However, a study conducted by the University of Southern California on gambling showed the opposite of these claims. It actually prescribes it games and virtual reality promote empathy and have a positive impact on mental health. Provided, of course, that they are used properly.
Only problem, the companies that neglected the safety of users seem to be present again in the metaverse. It is very likely that the same actors will continue their old practices in this new virtual reality. And hey loneliness, the massive influx of dangerous content … and why not suicide.
The Kid’s Metaverse kicks off several benefitsto know :
- understand abstract concepts in an engaging way;
- access to near-real-time hands-on experience to help children better understand their environment and how it works;
- improving children’s social skills;
- to provide a safe and controlled environment to interact and make friends;
- the existence of a springboard for creativity and the development of children’s social intelligence;
- the meta-verse as a source of amusement;
- bonds between parents and children;
However, it is up to the parents to be aware of the potential dangers and to take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of their offspring. In this way, the children’s metavers become an ideal place for children to explore and learn.
Admittedly, the meta-verse for children has its strengths, but so does it its weak points. We would especially like to quote:
- cyberbullying (often a source of harassment for children);
- lack of confidentiality and privacy issues;
- inappropriate content (violence, sexual content, hate speech, etc.);
- the creation of an addiction in the child given its very immersive and engaging nature;
- the physiological and physical risks associated with the metaverse of children due to the intensive use of VR headsets (dizziness, nausea, headache, etc.);
- unequal access, which will create an educational disadvantage for the less well-off;
To do this effectively, parents are advised to closely monitor their children’s activities in the metaverse. So here are a few things to consider:
- acute monitoring of their online activities, what they see and do in children’s metavers;
- prior definition of the rules and establishment of clear guidelines for the use of the metaverse (although this means a revision of them later);
- advice on how to behave when interacting with other people when they are online (including encouraging them to be polite and considerate);
- help for optimized management of the time allocated to the virtual world and the real world;
Also it manufacturers and companies have their share of responsibility. Admittedly, it seems illusory to expect much from them, but they will have to consider the following parameters:
- content moderation;
- reporting and suppressing dishonesty with clear mechanisms for handling such reports;
- design of VR devices and metaverse systems adapted to children’s comfort and well-being;
- integration of antivirus software (including, but not limited to, password protection and encryption) into VR devices and children’s metaverse platforms;
When we talk about children and the metaverse of children, we can not escape the issue of protection and parental responsibility. Nevertheless, this responsibility must be shared with technology companies. Because by neglecting the dangers that children incur on their platform and while using their devices, they will definitely lose customers.
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