Facebook is getting tired. It’s a bit of the same ol’, same ol’ – right? Plus its spent a lot of time of late in the naughty corner. This week, our friend Mr Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is now going to be called META (a derivative of the word “metaverse.” And while your initial thought is definitely “Kids think Facebook is just for old people, why would they care?,” there are some important reasons why you should care, and why the move to the metaverse has interesting implications for our relationship with our screenagers.
What is The Metaverse?
According to Facebook’s messaging about the shift over to the metaverse, those at FB headquarters suggest that a metaverse is where you can virtually meet, work and play using a VR headset, glasses or your device. Think of it kind of like a shared real-life video game. Basically, you can be present with other people in virtual spaces
The important words here are SHARED and VIRTUAL. Facebook is going to become a beautiful online space that you no longer observe – rather, simply put, you will be *in it!*
Old News, New Relationships!
This is really old news for our teens and tweens who have been sharing beautiful, angry, aggressive, constructive experiences in a metaverse for a long time. In the gaming world, teens already live inside a metaverse in which characters can walk around and talk to each other, build, destroy, create, love, hate, procreate and leave.
Games like Fortnite went one step further, they hosted a real live concert with Ariana Grande inside their metaverse drawing millions of viewers onto their platform, most of whom were our kids immersed in a Fornite world while watching their favourite performer.
There are also metaverses with fully functional economies. Yup this is an online arena where “decentralized finance,” or DeFi, as our teens call it, reigns in a very real way in a very unreal world — fusing together cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, non-fungible tokens and video gaming.
But my kids are too young to belong to a metaverse – Um no!
If you have a child playing a game like Roblox (a favourite with the littler ones), they are already part of a metaverse. Our kids have the ability to create their own games using Roblox’s developer tools. They can then monetize their creations and cash out.
Interestingly, most of them don’t just cash out their own virtual currency (your hard-earned money often buys their currency called Robux) – nope they spend it on other games or avatar customisations (skins) that other kids create across the ecosystem so they are putting that money back into the platform’s economy. Money travels in and around the metaverse, rather than out. It’s a growing, self-sufficient economy and whether we like it or not, we as parents are being pulled into it.
I’m out – but I’m In!
We can hear you saying ‘not for me’ from afar. But without knowing it, many of you are already in a kind of metaverse without knowing it. One example is Microsoft Teams which now has 3D avatars to literally represent you both in 2D and 3D meetings, so you can choose to have an animated version of yourself if you’re not feeling like turning on your webcam to reveal your bed hair for those relentless ‘work from home’ meetings.
How can this possibly be GOOD for me and my tw/een?
Zuckerberg said that the name “meta” was inspired by the Greek word “beyond.” “For me, it symbolizes that there is always more to build, and there is always a next chapter to the story.” At Klikd, this is not so much the next chapter, but more about adults trailing behind a land that teens and tweens already occupy, so best we understand it even if we don’t want citizenship.
The book of faces is allowing us as adults a chance to gently slide into a territory we would otherwise generally avoid… so this time let your teens guide the journey! Below are some conversation starters that might make the trip more fun and a whole lot more connecting for you and your savvy screenager.
- Do you know Facebook and Instagram are transforming to incorporate the metaverse -how do you understand the word metaverse? (If your child doesn’t know what it is, research and discuss it together).
- Do you already have experiences online that feel like a sort of alternate reality/ metaverse?
- If you could create your own metaverse, what platform and what immersive experiences would you choose to augment your experience? ( think famous Youtubers, artists, motor cycle races, celebrities, sports events, social events, travel, blockchain economy competitions – the sky is the limit)
- Do you think Facebook’s decision to change its focus into a more augmented reality experience is a way of taking our focus off the fact that they are in the naughty corner for ignoring the impact Instagram can have on how girls feel about themselves or do you think was going to happen anyway?
- Do you think you are missing out on anything in real life by living a lot of your life in the metaverse or do you think everything and more importantly everyone is available to you there?
- Do you think my generation (ie. your parents) will get into the metaverse and learn to really enjoy all it has to offer or are we blind to its gifts?
- What do you think the best part of the metaverse is?
Let your teens answers bring engagement rather than judgement. Remember our parents thought rock would be our demise too.
Sarah and Pam