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Meta Allows 10-Year-Olds to Use VR Headsets with Parental Consen

Meta, the tech giant, has announced that children as young as 10 will be officially allowed to use their Meta Quest 2 and 3 VR headsets, as long as their parents approve. In a recent blog post, Meta emphasizes the availability of engaging and educational apps and games for children, although the health implications of VR for kids are still under debate. This update coincides with the popularity of games like Roblox.

The introduction of parent-managed Meta accounts ensures that parents have initial approval over their child’s VR activities, allowing them to control app usage and set time limits. Information regarding these features will be accessible through the “family center” section of the user’s account.

Regarding data collection, Meta clarifies that any information collected from 10-, 11-, and 12-year-olds using their VR products will be used to provide an age-appropriate experience. Advertising to this age group is prohibited, and parents have the option to decide whether their child’s data contributes to improving the overall experience. Additionally, parents can delete their child’s account along with all associated data, with assurances from Meta that they will follow through on these requests, distinguishing themselves from other tech companies under scrutiny by the FTC for retaining children’s data.

Ultimately, the decision of whether VR is suitable for their child rests with each parent. It is important to note that the lack of independent studies on children using modern VR headsets leaves uncertainties. To address potential risks, Meta acknowledges various hazards in a document, including the increased weight of the helmets for young children, the potential for eye strain, and nausea. However, each section concludes with Meta asserting that no evidence of harm has been found. While this does not imply dishonesty, Meta's credibility regarding the negative impact of its products on individuals remains a topic of concern.

One of the most alarming points raised is the potential blurring of a child's perception of reality, described as the erosion or delay of "reality distinctions." Although it is natural for young children to have blurred lines between reality and fantasy, the advent of fully immersive displays with photorealistic worlds is a relatively new development in the past five to ten years.

If you decide to allow your child to experience VR, it can be an exciting and enjoyable experience for everyone involved, as VR has the potential for greatness. However, it is essential to consider that even adults can experience immediate negative effects, let alone from prolonged exposure. Engage in open conversations with your child and exercise caution regarding the duration and intensity of their engagement with this technology. When even Meta acknowledges the presence of risks, it is crucial to pay attention and heed their warnings.