Meta introduces VR parental safety tools and metaverse youth safety report in Australia

Meta is expanding its safety offering, with the rollout of virtual reality (VR) safety tools for Australian parents and young people on Quest devices, and new research in the metaverse in partnership with PROJECT ROCKIT.

The new tools are designed to support parents, guardians and young people operating VR headsets. The tools are now available for all Meta Quest headsets, and give parents or guardians the ability to:

• Approve their teen’s downloads or purchases of an app that is blocked by default based on its IARC rating. Teens 13+ can submit an “Ask to Buy” request, which triggers a notification to their parent or guardian. The parent or guardian can then approve or deny the request from the Oculus mobile app.
• Block specific apps that may be inappropriate for their teen which will prevent the teen from launching those apps. Apps that can be blocked include apps like web browsers and apps available on the Quest Store. • • View all of the apps their teen owns. Receive VR purchase notifications, alerting them when the teen makes a purchase in VR.
• View headset screen time from the Oculus mobile app, so they know how much time their teen is spending in VR.
• View their teen’s list of Oculus Friends.
• Block Link and Air Link to prevent content access from a PC via a Quest headset.

Housed in Meta’s dedicated Family Centre, the tools also include a dedicated Parent Dashboard, that hosts a suite of supervision tools that link to the young person’s account and requires consent from both the parent and the young person’s side.

Meta’s global head of safety, Antigone Davis, who is in Australia to meet with safety organisations and young people this week, reaffirmed Meta’s commitment to enhancing online safety.

“We know we have a responsibility to help keep people safe on our platforms. From single-player games and apps to social experiences where behavioural norms are still being established, VR presents unique benefits as well as unique challenges. These tools are the first step in enabling young people to experience VR in a safe way and form part of a wider suite of supervision and safety tools available to users across Facebook, Instagram and Meta devices like Meta Quest 2 and RayBan Stories,” Davis said.

“We know that young people are early adopters of new technologies so it’s important that we get their perspectives so we can create age-appropriate and safe experiences that empower them to explore VR safely. We also want to ensure parents play a role in these new experiences, so all our parental controls across Instagram and VR require consent from both parties, which we believe is an important step in continuing to shape trust conversations between young people and parents or guardians.”

Meta has also worked in close consultation with young people in Australia to gather their feedback and insights on ensuring the road to the metaverse is built responsibly and in consultation with young people.

In Australia, PROJECT ROCKIT, Australia’s youth-driven movement against cyberbullying, convened online roundtables with 42 youth leaders who were nominated by leading organisations in youth, mental health, and technology from across Australia including the Centre for Multicultural Youth, headspace, Indigital, Minus18, Orygen, ReachOut, and UNICEF Australia.

The youth leaders’ perspectives were outlined in this new report released today, ‘Our Metaverse: Young People and the Digital Future’. The report identifies the positive opportunities the metaverse will provide for the connection and building of new relationships, education, and shaping identity. It also highlights the importance of a responsible approach to building the metaverse, particularly in relation to safety, privacy, access and inclusion, and balancing the offline and online experiences.

PROJECT ROCKIT co-founder and CEO Lucy Thomas said: “In building a metaverse that is worthy of future generations, it is essential that we work with young people to ensure their lived experience and expertise are front and centre as we build emerging online experiences. Such efforts must seek to elevate a diversity of youth voices from simple participation and leadership roles. As Australia’s youth-driven movement against (cyber)bullying, PROJECT ROCKIT is proud to be working with Meta to literally shape the future with the experiences, hopes and dreams of young people.”


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