Metaverse is on the rise for the last few years, and many investors have already started investing (1) in the projects to be a part of the future that the Metaverse promises. People are already expecting to soon be a part of the virtual reality so they can experience being part of a world with far more potential than our real physical world.
The idea of the metaverse, of living in a world of augmented and virtual reality has been there for a long time, existing in the pages of Sci-fi and futuristic fiction (2) and living and taking shape in the mind of people who wish to make this dream into reality.
Since the advent of the internet and social media people have already started realizing how important it would become for the future. We keep on improving and innovating, it’s a non-stop process, a continuous cycle.
At the rate that we are going right now, with many globally-listed companies focusing their attention on the metaverse project, buying lands (3), and real estate in Metaverse. It seems like they preparing to become a part of the virtual 3D world.
The reason for such sudden interest in the metaverse is because of the prediction of its success. The Metaverse is going to be the future successor of today’s internet. This technology would be built with features (4) like immersive and persisting reality made possible with AR and VR technology.
Futuristic Features of Metaverse
Metaverse promises its users an advanced futuristic user experience and to make this experience real it has used a lot of functions to replicate the real world but with better features and functions.
Following is the list of Features the Metaverse might have:
- Human Interface Technology,
- Digital Avatars,
- Persistence, etc.
There are multiple Metaverse projects that are currently in their development stages, but we have already started getting a glimpse of what these platforms might hold for us in the near future.
Metaverse allows people to interact and connect with others without leaving the confines of their hope. They won’t need to dress up, or travel, all they had to do would be to use their virtual avatar and use them just like they do in the real world (5).
In the future, the need to go out to work, to meet people, and even mundane things like buying necessities and clothing, might just become useless, because by then the digital reality might have taken precedence over the real physical world.
Children would not need to confine themselves to schools, they would have access to an incredible amount of knowledge in different subjects, and they might be able to study at their own pace.
Kids in the Metaverses
Not every platform is appropriate for underage children, and we can’t risk them being exposed to inappropriate things. Therefore, many Metaverses are creating spaces that are safe for the children to explore.
For example, Roblox and Minecraft were created with children in mind and therefore are safe for children to use.
Some Metaverses like Roblox offer Safety features (6) for children below 13. Some brands are creating metaverses that are specifically for kids, such as Nike’s Airtopia.
There is a large possibility that in the future the Metaverse might just restrict and limit the range of children's activity to avoid exposing them to an inappropriate environment and to even protect their privacy and safety.
Many platforms have already worked on these issues and many are in the process of making their platforms accommodating for children.
Despite the efforts of the metaverse platform to ensure the safety of children, they have not been able to make it fully safe because children can easily bypass this restriction by lying about their age or using their parent's accounts. Therefore, Metaverses are yet to be a fully protective space for children (7).
Children are quite active in metaverse games and therefore are considered to be one of the main consumers. Therefore, ensuring their safety and privacy should be the top priority of these platforms.
They have to make sure that children are playing games that are appropriate for their age and they are not being exposed to excessive violence.
With youth leading the gaming platforms it is of utmost importance to make sure that their in-game experience is secured.
Children will most likely make the major portion of the future consumer of Metaverses. Therefore, making them aware of the Metaverse, which has the potential to become an important part of their life is also necessary.
Therefore, parents should be aware of the risks children might face when using these platforms. They might already be familiar with the concept of augmented reality because of games like Pokémon Go (8).
Playing virtual games with VR headsets and wearables is now becoming a common thing among kids, although this might not be the case in many places around the world we can’t deny that children might even be ahead of adults.
Kids View Metaverse
Kids’ interest in Metaverse is quite different from their adult counterparts (9). The reason why many of them enter this new virtual world is because of their interest in the games.
Especially, after the pandemic, there has been a rise in the number of games that are based on metaverse, for example, Minecraft, Roblox, Among Us, Fortnite, etc.
They are very fascinated by the functioning of the metaverse and how much freedom and abilities it provides them, they can build things, customize their own avatars, and do much more.
Many major companies such as fashion brands (10) have also involved themselves in these games, they can now even shop for branded clothes, shoes, and accessories for their avatars.
Kids are more attracted by the games, unlike the adults who are interested in assets, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs. Although they might be aware of them their area of interest is more toward games.
The metaverse presents great advantages for children.
It is considered to be the next generation of the internet. For children being a part of the Metaverse has both advantages as well as disadvantages
Pros of Metaverse for Kids
Metaverse can prove itself to be very helpful for children, following are the advantages (11) of kids using metaverse:
- Education on metaverse might become a game-changer for all of us. We can only imagine how many benefits students could get if the distance is removed, the number of opportunities for students will increase by magnitudes.
- It helps in improving the social skills of children, Metaverse removes the distance and isolation that can be experienced through the current day social media.
- Metaverse promotes innovation among children. Metaverse stimulates their creative ability through its games like Minecraft, Roblox, etc. they use their creativity to build their houses, etc.
- It is a great way for parents and children to strengthen their bond, they can play together which naturally brings them close while also relieving the stress of their everyday life.
- Kids can also think of the metaverse as an adventure and explore new places and they can also build their confidence while interacting with others.
The idea of a virtual 3D classroom creates gives way to a new innovative model of education.
Cons of Metaverse for Kids
There are always two sides to a coin, with advantages there are always disadvantages. Everything in this world has its own positive and negative attributes.
Let us now look at how metaverse might prove to be disadvantageous (12) for young children
- One major issue that many parents have expressed with the rise of the metaverse is that of the privacy and safety of their children. Children sometimes can be naïve and may accidentally reveal their own personal information, which might later risk their safety.
- Metaverse risks the possibility of kids being exposed to stuff that is not appropriate for their age. Despite the safety measure, there is always the possibility of children evading the guidelines by lying about their age, or using an adult's account, in such a situation ensuring their safety is very difficult.
- Cyberbullying is one big concern that worries many parents, when children become the target of cyberbullying, they do not know how to cope with that, and it might even affect them psychologically.
- When children invest too much time playing in the metaverse, they forget the fun of outdoor games, and not getting enough physical activities might not be good for their health. Therefore, parents should encourage their children to get off their devices and spend some time in the real world.
- Spending too much time on these platforms is also strenuous for children, therefore the parents should strictly control how much time their children and spending on these platforms (13).
Internet addiction has already become a major concern for many parents, and with metaverse, the problem might even increase. Addiction to metaverse would be very detrimental to children, because it may lead to neglect of studies.
Metaverse and Education: A Match Made in Heaven
We have already seen a lot of changes in the modes of education (14) in the last few years. With the pandemic and lockdown compelling students to continue their studies in online mode from home. We can say that it has completely changed the methods of education.
Technology has helped the students and teachers to be connected through online classrooms. Online examination has now become common terminology in the education circle.
We can safely say that in the past few medium education has mostly shifted to online modes, although the world had started slowly recovering and the schools and universities are reopening.
Online education has already opened a completely new path for education, it is like the seed of revolution that might grow in a tree of new and innovative ways of education and this three would most likely be grown on the soil of metaverse (15).
Metaverse as we know is based on ideas of immersive, augmented, and persistent virtual reality. The virtual classroom is a term most people would already be aware of, but the virtual class of metaverse would be a close replica of today's real classroom.
In the future, the classrooms and even educational institutes might be built in the metaverse land!
The mode of education would be virtual with the students and teachers using their virtual 3D avatars for classroom activities. To be honest students and teachers would then not be bound by their location.
They would have many options to choose from and access to all the good educational institutes, unlike the real world where if you want to study at a good institute you might have to change your city or even your country.
To be honest, Metaverse would eliminate all the limitations that location implements on people.
For us our location defines a lot about ourselves, therefore many have to struggle for good education and some get easy access because of their location.
Using technology to educate children is not something new, we already have a digital classroom (16), with facilities like projectors, IR screens, computers, etc. students have also started using electronic devices instead of books.
These are the indication that the coming generation is ready to take digital classes up a notch by using a fully functional virtual classroom (17) of Metaverse. These virtual classrooms would be quite different from the virtual online classroom that we have today.
These classrooms would actually simulate the real physical classroom, and here usage of advanced technologies like 3D illustrations and images and other smart applications would be completely normalized.
Metaverse will also be able to remove the question of distance that poses a problem for today’s virtual classes. Due to the online mode students feel isolated and therefore they lose their confidence and could not even communicate properly.
Metaverse reduces this distance because of the usage of digital avatars and persisting augmented reality (18).
Pros of Metaverse classrooms are:
Following are the pros (19) of Metaverse classrooms:
- Simulation of the real-life classroom in the virtual world.
- Promoting communication
- Immersive learning experience
- Gamified learning experience
Cons of Metaverse Classroom
Following are the cons (20) of the Metaverse classrooms:
- Children who have hearing problems and are visually impaired would require special assistance.
- Internet addiction is already a problem among children, metaverse might just contribute even more to that and students might neglect the real world.
- Lack of physical activities would be a major problem. Maintaining physical health is one of the major concerns because in the virtual classroom students are using their avatars, so even if they play sports, their bodies won’t benefit much from that.
- Physical sports activities and exercise are common in schools, but virtual classrooms cannot make them possible.
We can say that properly introducing the children to the metaverse is a great choice because Metaverse is the future and hence an inevitable part of their life. Children having prior knowledge about it won’t harm them in any way.
Avoiding the risks of the metaverse is not completely possible, and it is the shared duty of the adults, and parents to always keep an eye out for their children to ensure their protection (21) while they use such platforms.
The platforms should also make sure that they trying their utmost to protect the children. Creating separate spaces for children is a great option. Many platforms have strict guidelines to ensure that children are not put in harm’s way in any way.