Meta‘s Horizon Worlds, the metaverse space, is now accessible to teens aged 13 to 17 in the US and Canada, with a gradual rollout in the coming weeks. The company is implementing robust safety measures and parental controls to ensure the experience is age-appropriate and safe for younger users.
To protect younger teens, their Horizon Worlds profiles will be private by default, and they won’t automatically see locations or active statuses. Unfamiliar adults will not be shown in their “people you might know” lists. Age ratings will prevent teens from creating or using mature content, and a “voice mode” will garble the voices of anyone who is not following them back. Additionally, younger users will receive safety tips while they are in virtual reality (VR).
Parents can use the Meta Quest app or Family Center (now available for Horizon Worlds) to control features such as personal boundaries, app permissions, usage tracking, and follower monitoring. Users can also cast their VR view to an external screen, allowing parents in the room to monitor the content being accessed.
Meta’s approach to teen safety in Horizon Worlds is similar to its approach on Facebook and Instagram. However, some senators have expressed concerns about the adequacy of Meta’s safeguards, citing the company’s own research that revealed harm to teens and the potential for predatory and toxic behavior in virtual spaces like VRChat.
Despite the concerns, there is pressure on Meta to expand its audience for Horizon Worlds. As the social media giant struggles to pivot to the metaverse and faces financial challenges with investments in Reality Labs and Quest headsets, a wider teen audience could potentially boost Horizon’s user base and stimulate the VR hardware market.