Are Kids Already In The Metaverse

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Carrots&Cake listened to the top Screen Time podcasts by TVO & summarized the key takeaways. Carrots&Cake independently created these podcast notes and does not have any affiliation with the Screen Time podcast.

Key Individuals

  • Nicole Edwards - Tech journalist and podcast producer
  • Taylor Owen - Founding director of The Center for Media, Technology, and Democracy
  • Katie Salen Tekinbas- Game designer, animator, and educator. Professor at the University of California, Irvine.
  • Chris Ferguson - Psychologist and video game researcher.

Key Takeaways

  • Roblox, Minecraft, and the metaverse have changed friendships for kids online. Kids can communicate and interact with friends anywhere and at any time.
  • Approximately 75% of American kids between the age of 9 and 12 use Roblox and other virtual worlds like Fortnight and Minecraft and socialize in these spaces.

Intro

  • Wally and Bella (son and niece of Taylor Owen) guide Nicole as she plays Roblox for the very first time. They explain to her how amazing the game is and how even though Wally and Bella live very far away from each other, the virtual platform Roblox provides allows them to spend quality time with each other as if they were together.

Metaverse

  • The metaverse is defined in the dictionary as "an online space that people inhabit together as avatars, which allows them to meet anyone using augmented reality game consoles, headsets, mobile devices, or computers."
  • Many have argued that the metaverse is already here, and the kids are on the front lines using it on a regular basis.

Slang talk and gaming behavior, should parents be concerned?

  • In ROBLOX no one types the word "you" anymore. The use of short abbreviations has become widespread. Players usually use "U" for "You," "IDK," "IDC" for "I don't know," and "I don't care."
  • Parents are worried about who their kids spend time with and talk to online.
  • Kids have a wider social circle online than in their neighborhoods
  • Some kids feel that building friends in real life are more valuable than those online. Then there are specific populations of kids that may have an easier time making online friendships than real-life friendships. This can be because of the behavioral and cognitive social consequences of those diagnosed with autism. They can form long-lasting and meaningful relationships that they may not have gotten if they were restricted to the people who lived in their immediate geographical area.

The shift in how kids play games

  • Kids no longer play games just to pass the time, the manner in which they are involved these days has created a social space for them to communicate with their friends. It's an ecosystem of interactions.     
  • Online games are team activities. Research confirms that this can make them really powerful unifiers.
  • What can parents do to ensure their kids get the most out of their gaming time socially?

Chris Ferguson has a checklist of things for parents to keep in mind:

  • Are your kids’ grades about where they should be?
  • Are your kids getting enough sleep at night?
  • Is your child getting adequate exercise?
  • Are they getting as much social experience, whether that's online or in real life, as they feel that they need?

Kids in the Metaverse

  • Katie Salen thinks we can use kid-friendly gaming servers to model how to create healthy online communities for kids. Servers are like little neighborhoods within a platform. They are controlled by the person who creates them. The creator sets the codes of conduct, which users have to follow.
  • Katie's team works with young people to create Minecraft servers that are optimized for kids at different developmental stages, which are designed based on their interests.

To learn more about screen time and its impact on your child's brain development, listen to the full podcast here by Screen Time.

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