Too Young for the Metaverse? Meta's Controversial Push into Classrooms

Too Young for the Metaverse? Meta's Controversial Push into Classrooms
đź‘‹ Hi, I am Mark. I am a strategic futurist and innovation keynote speaker. I advise governments and enterprises on emerging technologies such as AI or the metaverse. My subscribers receive a free weekly newsletter on cutting-edge technology.

While some children dream of virtual adventures, Meta's plan to equip 13-year-olds with VR headsets for classroom learning sparks a critical debate: Are we pushing our kids into a digital realm too soon?

Meta is steering its Quest 3 virtual reality headsets into classrooms, targeting students as young as 13 to immerse them in digital replicas of historical sites and art galleries.

Meta is setting its sights on the educational sector by integrating its Quest 3 virtual reality headsets into classrooms across the country, targeting students as young as 13. This move comes as part of a larger, costly pivot toward virtual and augmented reality technologies, with Meta budgeting up to $99 billion this year on related infrastructure. The initiative aims to transport students to virtual renditions of ancient Rome or the Metropolitan Museum of Art, right from their school chairs.

Despite the allure of making education more interactive, which I very much believe in, this strategy is simply wrong. Instead of pushing more screen time to young children, we should focus on less. Introducing such immersive technologies at a young age could lead to increased digital dependency, detracting from traditional learning methods and potentially stunting developmental growth. We should be particularly concerned given the ongoing scrutiny over insufficient protections for younger users on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which are also owned by Meta.

The scepticism extends beyond just philosophical debates about screen time; it touches on the efficacy and appropriateness of virtual reality in educational settings. While Meta suggests that these headsets could become as commonplace as iPads or smart whiteboards in schools, the reality is that comprehensive research into the long-term impacts of such immersive learning is scant. Early studies have shown mixed results: some indicate a boost in student motivation and engagement, while others suggest that VR can overwhelm students, leading to diminished learning outcomes.

Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, argues that the initiative is driven by demand from educators and could revolutionize classroom experiences. I would argue it has more to do with tapping into a new target group that is vulnerable for online interactions, resulting in more profit for Meta's shareholders.

Without solid evidence to support the long-term benefits—and with significant concerns about the potential for tech addiction and cognitive overload—the push toward integrating such advanced technology in schools seems premature.

As Meta plans to roll out these VR headsets by fall, the educational community and parents alike are left weighing the potential benefits against the risks of ushering in a new era of digital immersion at a critical stage of child development.

Read the full article on Bloomberg.


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Dr Mark van Rijmenam

Dr Mark van Rijmenam

Dr. Mark van Rijmenam is a strategic futurist known as The Digital Speaker. He stands at the forefront of the digital age and lives and breathes cutting-edge technologies to inspire Fortune 500 companies and governments worldwide. As an optimistic dystopian, he has a deep understanding of AI, blockchain, the metaverse, and other emerging technologies, and he blends academic rigour with technological innovation.

His pioneering efforts include the world’s first TEDx Talk in VR in 2020. In 2023, he further pushed boundaries when he delivered a TEDx talk in Athens with his digital twin , delving into the complex interplay of AI and our perception of reality. In 2024, he launched a digital twin of himself offering interactive, on-demand conversations via text, audio or video in 29 languages, thereby bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds – another world’s first.

As a distinguished 5-time author and corporate educator, Dr Van Rijmenam is celebrated for his candid, independent, and balanced insights. He is also the founder of Futurwise , which focuses on elevating global digital awareness for a responsible and thriving digital future.


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