The term “metaverse” seems to be everywhere right now, conjuring up images of a faraway future where people are spending all their waking hours clamped into virtual headsets and living in a virtual space. Think Ready Player One, in which kids escape their dystopian surroundings by playing as avatars, or The Matrix, in which unwitting people are living their lives completely plugged in.
But in some ways, the metaverse is with us now. More than 30 million people own virtual reality headsets, and kids spend hours on immersive games like Roblox and Minecraft. And that means that as the technology continues to expand and engulf kids’ lives, parents need to understand it and strategize for how they and their families will handle it.
“It’s a big mistake that parents make to think VR is far off in the future, in some sci-fi movie, and that it will take a decade for this to come,” says Grace Ahn, director of the Games and Virtual Environments Lab at the University of Georgia. “It’s in the home, and games are being developed as we speak. So we need to start talking now.”