The Parent’s Guide to the Metaverse

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The emergence of proto-metaverses

“What’s happening right now are more proto-metaverses, which are these mini versions of the metaverse, where you engage in activity in a metaverse-like way,” says Mike Salmon, vice -Senior President of Gaming and Esports for Research and Consulting Company, Magid. Facebook [Meta] and its Oculus “Horizon Worlds” app is sort of a proto-metaverse because you engage, and you know people, and they know you. You interact with people and transact with them,” says Salmon.

In addition to Meta, other technology companies such as Microsoft, Google, and BlueJeans by Verizon are developing products and promoting proto-metaverse worlds where users can interact and communicate with others in virtual spaces. If you work from home, the Metaverse also represents next-gen video chats and video conferencing with BlueJeans Spaces, where you can interact with colleagues in a virtual office and brainstorm in a virtual conference room.

The game as a way for parents to understand the metaverse

The video game industry also has major players in the metaverse creation mix. If parents want to better understand the metaverse and its appeal, they may need to spend some time exploring the online games enjoyed by Gen Z and Alpha kids, also known as “mini-millennials.” ”, born between 2011 and 2025. These games include Minecraft. , the Epic Games franchise, Fortnite and the hugely popular children’s platform, Roblox. All of these video games have created proto-metaverse worlds that embody the basic components that will make up the metaverse.

create a world

In these proto-metaverse or “mini-metaverse” games, children can design a world they want to “live in” and choose what it will look like and who they want to socialize with in that world. Of course, parents need to be aware of their child’s interactions and be supportive of them. But Salmon reminds parents that this new world can often provide powerful experiences for children who are introverted or feel unpopular.

“I’ve heard so many great stories about Roblox,” says Salmon. “People who may not be accepted into their schools can come into this place and be accepted into this world because they are like-minded people. There is a lot of joy and wonder in being accepted. in groups even if you are not a cheerleader or a football player.

Avatars and alternate identities

Having a virtual personality and choosing to be someone you’re not is a core part of the Metaverse, and it can be exciting and creative for kids. “There’s always an escape if you’re a kid,” Salmon says. “[Children] want to be someone different. Halloween is no exception; cosplay is no exception. You want to be a different variation of who you are, and that’s very appealing to a child.

The idea of ​​their kids and those they talk to virtually pretending to be someone else is alarming to most parents. Salmon stresses the importance of children and parents being smart and aware of the risks, but offers this perspective.

“Your child taking on an anonymous persona in a virtual world may actually be safer than a traditional social media experience, where a public profile may reveal personal information about your child. said Salmon.

Use currency in a virtual world

Minecraft has Minecoins and for Roblox it is Robux. Games can be free to play, but real money is used to buy in-game currency which can buy clothes and equipment for your avatars and characters or improve the look of the game. These virtual currencies are an example of how virtual economies can work in the real metaverse.

Parents and caregivers may be apprehensive about the broader implications of the Metaverse, but Salmon suggests this: “The Metaverse isn’t the villain, the internet isn’t the villain, video games aren’t the villain…. The truth is that everyone is going to be connected, so we have to stop being afraid of these metaverse factors, and start being aware of who our children are and talking to them about what’s going on and being aware of what’s going on past.

How parents can help keep their children safe in the proto-metaverse environment:

  • Monitor your child’s activity on the Internet and proto-metaverse platforms and discuss with him the advantages and disadvantages of the virtual world. Parents should keep security in mind and apply the same level of control to the metaverse as they would for the traditional Internet.

  • When your kids are using VR headsets, stream the gameplay to the main family TV.

  • Improve your understanding of ESRB ratings and ensure that the proto-metaverse games your Gen Z and Gen Alpha kids are playing are age-appropriate.

  • Set parental controls on all the online games your kids play, using products like Smart Family.

  • Learn to talk to your children about their healthy use of virtual technology.

  • Allow the proto-metaverse worlds to provide a place of positive expression for your Gen Z or Gen Alpha child.

  • Play games with your children from time to time. Show them that you are interested in what they are doing and that you care.

There is no need to hide in your metaverse helmet. To parents who are worried that in a few years their Gen Z or Gen Alpha kids will only want to talk to them in hologram form… relax. The metaverse and its different versions are still under development, and things will probably be different in the next 5 or 10 years.

In the meantime, dig. Ask questions. Ask your child to describe it to you. Better yet, ask them to show you around. Technology is constantly changing and parenting is always a challenge. However, it is important for parents to keep the communication channel open with their children as they both navigate the evolving virtual landscape.

As the metaverse continues to take shape, parent with the right controls using Smart family.

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