As if social networks and online games with multiple players weren’t enough, people who live at home with minors will soon be asked if they want to let their kids use the metaverse. Is the metaverse a good place for kids? One more fight to add to the long list of situations in which adults have to decide how safe it is for kids to use the Internet.
And that is that, if what some experts say comes true, the metaverse will become another tool that people in our connected society will use regularly in the coming years. That is, the same way it is today when you have a smartphone or are on social networks. We don’t think much about it because it’s something that everyone does. What should we do when our kids ask us to join them in the metaverse? Will it be a safe place to live together?
We still have a ways to go before we can answer that question. In theory, blockchain technology will be used in the metaverse to give users privacy and security. But maybe not all companies in the metaverse think the same way about privacy. And even more so when you consider that if we access the metaverse through virtual reality technology, the amount of data we send will make that data very valuable to advertisers, advertising companies, and even insurance companies. But that’s a different story. Let’s think about how to keep children safe in the metaverse.
What would a metaverse for kids look like?
The metaverse will face the same problems that we already have with other Internet services. Before, I talked about social networks and online games because that’s what young people do most of the time. So that we can know what we’re talking about when we talk about the metaverse.
First of all, content that kids can understand. Every parent or guardian knows to keep an eye on this kind of thing. Television, movies, music, books, shows in the open air, the Internet… Make sure that what a child is going to watch or read is appropriate for him. What’s wrong with the metaverse? The same as what we find in social networks. Because it is easy and free to make all kinds of content, avatars, and digital items in the metaverse, not all experiences there may be good for all kinds of people. Even so, it doesn’t have to be that way. But there will need to be warnings, like video game age codes, so that people can tell which online spaces are for kids and which are not.
As the metaverse becomes more popular, it’s likely that projects like Roblox or Minecraft will pop up. In these two places to play games online, there are game servers for kids. So that they block or stop the spread of content or activities for adults and/or bad behavior on the part of their users.
Parental control and virtual reality
Parental controls are one of the most popular ways for parents and guardians to keep kids from seeing inappropriate things on the Internet. Today, this type of tool can be found on smartphones, computers, video game consoles, and other devices to block access to certain content. Subscriptions like Movistar +, Netflix, and Prime Video also have parental controls.
So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that new technologies like virtual reality glasses or helmets have parental controls. A way for adults to limit the amount of time or content that kids can use virtual reality to access the metaverse or play online games. Even more. Parental control is also good for the companies that make these technologies, because it gives customers the confidence they need to let their kids use them without worrying.
No matter what, it’s not a matter of giving all the responsibility to parental control. As I’ve said in several articles before, it’s helpful to explain why you’re setting limits on time, activities, and content in addition to setting those limits. In the past, maybe telling people what to do was enough. Pedagogy is very important today. Include a clear and honest explanation that we don’t put limits on pleasure with our decisions. There are many reasons for this, such as privacy and safety.
NFTs, tokens, and cryptocurrency
When we talk about the metaverse as parents, the money aspect is another thing that should worry us. Money is a big part of some virtual worlds. Successful mobile and online games like Fortnite have already shown us how dangerous it is to let minors make online payments or buy virtual items with real money. Microtransactions, where you pay a small amount to unlock a game item, became popular because of mobile games. With the popularity of Fortnite, this trend has become very profitable for games that want you to spend real money.
We can find something like this in the metaverse. The gathering of virtual items like trading cards, objects, or avatars that can be bought with tokens or cryptocurrencies, which can be bought with real money. In the metaverse, there are online games that are based on these ways of doing things. When they are in check, they are not a problem. But if you’re a kid, it’s hard to not want the best for your character or avatar, even if it means spending money you don’t care about enough because you’re young.
We don’t yet know how much children will interact with NFTs, cryptocurrencies, or tokens. Kids shouldn’t be in that part of the metaverse. There are some technical problems to start with. Like making a cryptowallet or virtual wallet. Or the need for an adult to give permission for a minor to sign up on some sites. But some platforms make it hard for people under 18 to sign up by putting up barriers like limiting the amount of money that can be withdrawn or making commissions higher. Limits that hurt the child more than they help hurt them even more.
Definitely. With the right tools, which are made possible by the right technologies and platforms, the metaverse can be a safe place for kids, teens, and adults as long as everyone follows the rules of getting along and respecting each other. But as with things like social networks and online games today, it’s important to be aware of the risks. And how can we keep the child safe? With the added difficulty of not stopping you from using these technologies to talk to your friends and other people you know. Technologies that we might not know about or find hard to understand.
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