artificial intelligence

Metaverse parenting

A couple of months ago, a 9-year-old boy decided that rather than celebrating his birthday like children of my generation would do, he would have his party in the metaverse. Using their avatars, he and his friends marked his birthday virtually. There was no need for party souvenirs, bouncy castles or party cooking for the birthday. To this boy and his friends, it was still a real party. They played games, had a DJ scratching his discs and generally had fun hanging out. To older folks, this would have looked quite bland, not the kind of stuff a party should be made of, particularly a Naija party!

Guess what! The metaverse is here with us and it is where people are going to be spending a decent part of their lives in the immediate future. Have you ever had a dream where you were watching a movie or an event and suddenly you found yourself in the centre of the action? The metaverse looks like that.

In case you are still wondering…generally speaking, the metaverse is that virtual world where people can play, work, connect and buy things, yes even buy physical things. It is an immersive world around us that has the potential to suck us in, in dimensions not yet fully explored. At its basics, it is a combination of Web 3.0 technology (next generation of the Internet), artificial intelligence and virtual reality/augmented reality.

There are a lot of positives expected from this relatively new tech – lots of money to be made, opportunities for businesses, music, entertainment, security, social commerce and so on. There are opportunities for solving new and age-long problems in the education, health, and real estate sectors. It also provides platforms for collaborations across multi levels, pushing up productivity.

There are also challenges, challenges parents would have to deal with, because, the metaverse would probably be where our children would spend most of their lives. They would be absorbed in it. Virtual spaces may appear more natural to them than our universe as we know it today.

They would have their birthday parties in the metaverse. Party planners take note…no more bouncy castles, balloons and decorations or clowns…you’ll need to evolve.

They would marry and divorce in the metaverse. They would probably raise families there too. Church or court weddings may not matter to them. A digital token or NFT would be sufficient proof of marriage.

They would seek independence at younger ages because they would start making money on their own, thanks to social media and new technology.  This throws up another issue. Why would a 12 year old need the supervision or control of a parent when he or she can legitimately make money to take care of his or her needs and possibly that of his or her parents? That child could probably be making more money in a month than his or her parents make in a year.

What about faith and religion in these digital spaces? Metaverse churches and concerts?

Who polices behaviour in the metaverse. If a child is reported as being a virtual bully, how is that dealt with?

How would you monitor or manage your children’s spending when purchases are only done in the metaverse using digital coins and tokens?

If your daughter’s avatar is sexually violated and it affects her mentally, how do you deal with that? Cyber bullying is a thing already, it is going to be very present on virtual streets in the metaverse.

Then there is the issue of mental health. Children would always be connected yet so isolated and withdrawn from the traditional society because they would love the virtual world more. New forms of addictions and maladies may spring up.

There wouldn’t be noise pollution from wild pool parties and shows anymore. The pollution would be in their heads and minds.

Homes would be silent and appear peaceful (everyone with gadgets on their heads) but individuals would be dealing with storms and uneasiness in their virtual worlds.

You would have people with dual personalities  – one for the universe and one for the metaverse. They may appear haggard and unkempt in real life but don the best designer labels in the metaverse. They would define the personalities of their avatars so that they have the outlook in the metaverse they really want, which could be very different from what they look like in the physical world.

Sometime in the future, people may move between the physical and virtual world so seamlessly you wouldn’t know the difference between both worlds. The definition of reality begins to take on a new meaning.

The metaverse may be so real to younger minds that they take more seriously the instructions their parents give them in the metaverse than those given in real life. Think about having to give your son or daughter a life lesson and having to do it via the metaverse.

These may be mere speculations or just a peek into what lies ahead. What is clear is that we can’t run away from the future that is unfolding before us. So how do you connect with your children in the metaverse? Are these thoughts far-fetched? How do you prepare your children for the future? Are you prepared for the future? What choices and decisions should you make as a parent? What are the boundaries? How do you involve yourself more in the life of your child? What values and morals should be imbibed?

I would like to get your thoughts on this. Send me a message…we might have a follow up article on this topic based on your comments.