Even since its creation, the metaverse has been imagined as a place of extremes. While some have termed it a utopian world of plenty, brimming with untold wealth and creative expression, others have branded it as a dystopian cyber-surveillance Orwellian state, with all the accompanying systemic inequality and abuse of power.
Explained simply, the metaverse is a whole gamut of digital stuff that runs parallel to physical life. It is essentially a collection of virtual worlds, with users playing games, chatting, buying stuff, and meeting.
It is a world where kids will be in more familiar territory and where they can reap potential benefits, ranging from immersive learning to creative play. But as with all new technology, there is a negative aspect to it, something that is yet to be fully fathomed.
The Metaverse And The Threat To The Physical Well Being Of A Child
Despite the benefits being touted, the darker side of the metaverse has not been fully studied, especially as it is still some time before we are aware of its full impact. We are yet to learn the privacy implications of such an increasingly connected, but almost unregulated digital world. And that increases the chances of manipulation and misinformation creeping into the metaverse.
The present effects of social media are bad enough, with a slew of mental health issues, including depression and self-harm among the common ones. And experts fear that it could get even worse with the metaverse.
The worrying factor is that the same companies that played with the insecurities of children of an entire generation are at the forefront of the Metaverse world.
The existing risks associated with the metaverse can be categorized as physiological dangers where it can induce eye strain, nausea, and other forms of physical cyber-sickness. VR headsets can blind users to the obstacles of the real world.
The next risk category is the violation of privacy, where every piece of information is collected, stored, and sold.
The third is the dissemination of false information and manipulation. It causes altered realities. And finally, there is the risk of psychological risks that lead to aggression, addiction, and disassociation from reality.
And finally, there is the potential for sexual abuse that can be more traumatic than in the two-dimension world of online formats.