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Carol Vorderman backs calls to protect children in the metaverse | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

Generation Alpha is spending more time socialising and playing online than in the real world, according to new research from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

With unprecedented access to connection and companionship at the click of a button, the study of 1,000 parents of children aged 5-13 found that 57% of children spend most of their recreational time online – a figure that rises to two-thirds amongst 12- to 13-year-olds specifically (67% and 66%).

‘Real-life’ hobbies such as arts, sports and baking have been swapped for virtual playtime with kids spending around the equivalent to a whole day online every week – 23 hours.

Amongst these online activities is the exploration of virtual realities (VR) which, according to the IET’s new research, two-thirds (66%) of children have now used and a quarter (25%) do so on a weekly basis. Proving this technology is here to stay, kids’ engagement with VR has grown by an incredible 320% in the past year alone (63% in 2023 vs. 15% in 2022), despite the lower age limits being 12 to 13 years old. Research conducted by the IET in 2022 estimates that Generation Alpha will spend more than a decade of their lives in VR.

In mid-March 2023, the UK Government’s Online Safety Bill progressed to the House of Lords, yet a range of potential harms unique to the use of metaverse and VR remain un-covered by legislation. To ensure this technology can be enjoyed safely, the IET has been campaigning to future-proof the Bill.

Last month, the IET drafted an amendment put forward by Lord Stevenson and Lord Clement-Jones that would oblige Ofcom to review how the Act applies to the Metaverse. The amendment led to an extensive debate in the House of Lords, concluding with the Government offering assurances that Ofcom’s periodic reviews will likely include users’ experiences of services such as the Metaverse.

The IET is continuing to push to ensure these reviews definitively include the metaverse and other emerging technologies – as well as calling on Ofcom to conduct a review on how the metaverse is governed.


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