The importance of navigating the metaverse’s effect on our kids

Do the pros outweigh the cons of our VR-driven future? The answer’s complex.
kid computer

In this case, dummy is a positive thing. If you’re holding onto IRL reality for dear life, you’re not alone. Policymakers, researchers and professors of all kinds are likely cheering you on from the sidelines.

But let’s return to metaverse basics. Defined as “immersive digital experiences accessed through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality devices,” it’s ushering in a new normal where kids are propped on couches, experiencing 3D worlds from goggles and headphones. Oh, and technically, age verification is not a thing.

Hear the sound of alarm bells?

We do too. The scariest part of this whole operation is the blurring of lines between reality and fantasy. Unlike film, TV or 2D gaming, virtual reality “engulfs us” from all sides, says a Stanford professor who’s done his own research into VR’s effects on kids. Not to mention, the metaverse means we’ll have even less reason to interact IRL. Isolation begets more emotional apathy and mental health issues.

We might as well write this off as another form of ‘prolonged escapism,’ to join the ranks of mind-altering drugs, television, gambling or pornography to name a few. Or should we?

Like with any technology, there’s also not-so-surprising upsides to VR:

  • Transformed children’s education
  • Reduces physical and emotional pain during medical procedures
  • Builds empathy, diversity and inclusion
  • Treats all sorts of mental health issues like phobias, nightmares and PTSD

Until we know more about this digital wild wild west (Ready Player One wasn’t so far off), here’s one pro-tip to hold you over: cap your kids’ VR sessions to 20 minutes.

Written by Tiffany Wen

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