Today, a group of leading experts and advocates for health, privacy, and children’s rights are demanding that Meta abandon plans to allow minors between ages 13 and 17 in Horizon Worlds, Meta’s flagship virtual reality platform. Led by Fairplay, the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), and the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), advocates have highlighted the lack of research on the impact of time spent on Metaverse in youth health and wellness. The organization has a history of putting values before the safety of children.
The supporters’ letter cautioned that Metaverse is not suitable for use by children and teenagers, citing a March 2023 study from CCDH that showed young children using Horizon Worlds it is regularly exposed to abuse and violence—including abuse and racist, misogynistic, and homophobic abuse—and other abuses.
In addition to the problems found in Horizon Worlds, the supporters’ letter describes a variety of problems that underage users face in Metaverse, including many problems with privacy. through the collection of biomarkers, issues in youth mental health and well-being. discrimination, etc.
In addition to Fairplay, CDD, and CCDH, the 36 organizations signing include Common Sense Media, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Public Citizen, and the Eating Disorders Coalition.
The 37 signatories include: Richard Gephardt of the Council for Responsible Social Media, former council member and executive director; Sherry Turkle, MIT Professor and author of Only once a Return Policy; and anthropologist and author Jonathan Haidt.
Josh Golin, Director, Fairplay:
“Besides the horror that Mark Zuckerberg wants to save his platform Horizons World by targeting young people. Currently, children are exposed to homophobia, racism, sexism, and misinformation. more at Horizon Worlds. The fact that Mr. Zuckerberg is thinking about such a bad and dangerous idea speaks to why we need Congress to pass COPPA 2.0 and the Kids Online Safety Act.
Katharina Kopp, PhD, Deputy Director, Center for Digital Democracy:
“Meta shows once again that it does not take into account the best interests of young people when developing plans to expand its business activities. Before considering the opening of its metaverse operation Horizon Worlds to young people, it should be the first to fully explore the future. It is in a unique effort and research to address the impact of virtual experiences on the mind and young people’s body, privacy, safety, and exposure to hate and other negative things. It is necessary to ensure that young children do not experience discrimination in the virtual world, where it continues eat and increase ‘real life’ injustice.
Mark Bertin, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at New York Medical College, former Director of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics at the Westchester Institute for Human Development, author of The ADHD Solution family, Parenting tips for ADHDa How children grow up:
“This isn’t like rock and roll anxiety, where older people are afraid of nothing. Many studies have explained the positive impact of Big Tech products on young people, and it is exacerbating a mental health problem. We cannot allow corporations to launch untested programs for children and youth while allowing families to pick up the pieces later. It is important for the well-being of our children that we understand what is safe and healthy first.”
Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate:
“Meta is making the same mistake that Horizon Worlds made with Facebook and Instagram. They put more value than safety in their product design, not providing information. obviously, and they refuse to take responsibility for ensuring the safety of the world, especially for children.
“Again, their goal is to rush into the market to achieve monopoly status – rather than building sustainable, industrial and recreational countries where people feel empowered and safe.
“Although, to some, ‘move fast and break things’ seen from young entrepreneurs, it’s a perfect strategy coming from Meta, one of the most valuable companies in the world. It should be learn lessons from the dangers of their previous products on society, our democracies and our citizens.