Meta lowers minimum age for Quest users to ten years old
Meta will introduce new Meta accounts specifically for children between the ages of ten and twelve. Previously, the minimum age was 13.
The new Meta accounts will be rolled out later this year and will allow parents to set up a so-called parent-managed Meta account for children between the ages of ten and twelve. Meta introduced parental supervision tools for the first time a year ago.
Only parents can create parent-managed accounts. Once set up, parents can control which VR apps their kids can download and how long they can use VR. Meta notes that apps come with age recommendations from the IARC and will provide age-appropriate content to its youngest users.
Meta also collects data from this user group, but does not serve ads and promises to delete the data if the Meta account is deleted. The parent-managed Meta accounts will be available for both Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest 3, which will be released this fall.
For use of Meta's proto-metaverse Meta Horizon Worlds, the minimum age remains: 13 in North America and 18 in Europe.
Meta expands potential target audience
Of course, these safeguards only protect children if parents use them. There should be nothing to stop a tech-savvy child from setting up a traditional meta account for themselves or using their parents' account.
By lowering the minimum age from thirteen to ten, Meta is taking into account the composition of its VR user groups. Virtual reality is very popular among children. With parent-managed accounts, Meta is creating a legal framework for younger children to use VR and "normalizing" their usage.
Lowering the minimum age has tangible benefits for Meta: it can attract a larger customer base and report better usage statistics.
Are VR headsets harmful to children?
Health concerns, on the other hand, seem to be secondary.
Meta provides a document discussing possible risks and scientific studies on the subject. The conclusion is that Meta has not found any evidence of lasting negative effects on vision (under conditions of typical and expected use). But: Just because something hasn't been proven doesn't mean it can be ruled out. Especially for very young users whose vision is still developing.
Parents can get more information about the Parental Control tools on the official support page. Information about the new parent-managed accounts is still missing, as they have not been rolled out yet.