Metaverse for kids – Preparing children for a creator’s economy and a mixed reality future

The Metaverse is here, and while the technology powering it is nascent, it is already being adopted by the tech savviest segment of our population – namely our kids. What started as a fringe video gaming technology has emerged as a potential game-changer for life and business, and children are at the frontier of bringing this tech into mass adoption, both as consumers and as creators.

New-age coding platforms in the market like HatchXR even enable kids to code their own Metaverses and AR / VR applications, and are being used by coding ed-techs, schools, and governments worldwide, including the Delhi government here in India.

In this article, we look at what the Metaverse is, why it matters, the role that kids can play in building this future, and the positive impact of early Metaverse exposure in their lives.

Metaverse – what’s the big deal?

The last big revolution in computing was made possible by the advent of smartphones, mini-computers in our pockets that enabled a whole new world of apps, business models, and productivity.

GPS sensors on smartphones gave us hyperlocal apps for shared mobility (Uber), navigation (Google Maps), and food delivery (Swiggy); the mobile camera gave us new ways to share our lives with others (Instagram, Snapchat) and to engage with our environments (PayTM with QR scanning); the various sensors on mobile devices made possible a new age of real-time health and fitness tracking; and so much more.

It is a popular belief in tech entrepreneur and investor communities worldwide that the next big revolution in computing, human productivity, and business models will be enabled by Spatial Computing and the Metaverse.

Spatial Computing refers to the idea that we can break free from the shackles of smartphones and flat 2D screens and make use of the full 3D space around us. With the help of Virtual and Augmented Reality hardware, we can transport ourselves into virtual worlds or bring virtual elements into our real world, opening up a number of enterprise and consumer applications not possible today.

The Metaverse is a standalone concept, separate from Spatial Computing, but the two work well together and enhance the utility of the other. The Metaverse refers to a persistent 3D internet universe, where each person has a digital identity (and a 3D avatar, if desired), a fully functioning digital economy to participate in, digital assets with new forms of digital ownership, and the ability to socialize / play / collaborate / transact / work with other digital users.

Child exploring a 3D castle metaverse environment that he created using HatchXR, a metaverse creation platform for school-aged children.

Today, kids and adults access the Metaverse mostly for Video Gaming purposes, and on their laptops and desktops, but as Spatial Computing technologies like AR and VR become more mature and cost-effective, we’ll be able to interact with the Metaverse immersively in the 3D space around us.

By donning Virtual Reality headsets and wearables with embedded sensors on our arms and legs, we will be able to walk around in an internet Metaverse as though it is a real 3D environment. We’ll be able to go to school in the Metaverse, we’ll be able to create art and play music in the Metaverse, do jobs and earn money. With the help of Augmented Reality goggles or lenses, we’ll be able to blend our life in the Metaverse with our physical lives. Imagine walking into your home and seeing a number of digital paintings you purchased in the Metaverse virtually hanging on your walls. Imagine seeing your children doing virtual science experiments in life-like reality, dissecting an augmented reality frog in the living room, seeing a volcano erupt in the kitchen, or a rocket taking off in the living room.

Augmented Reality: A child observes a virtual rocket taking off in her classroom via an AR app developed by her classmates on HatchXR.

Metaverse for Kids – what’s in it for them?

Together, these technologies – Metaverse and Spatial Computing (AR / VR) – make possible a future of unlimited possibility and unfettered imagination, with new jobs to be done, new ways of interacting and collaborating with fellow humans, new ways of acquiring information, and new income-generation opportunities.

For kids, the Metaverse is not a new concept. Kids are digital natives, born into a world with 3D multiplayer video games like Roblox and Minecraft, and the concepts of internet identities and digital transactions are familiar. Combine this with the fact that kids are highly imaginative, and we can quickly recognize the important role they will play in shaping the Metaverse future.

I believe that Kids stand to benefit from early exposure to Metaverse and Spatial Computing in three important ways:

  1. Early exposure to Metaverse and AR / VR enables a child to be a creator rather than a consumer in the inevitable future Metaverse.
  2. An early start to digital creation within the Metaverse prepares children for jobs of the future.
  3. Metaverse makes learning more fun and effective for the child in general: For example, it is well understood by now that coding and design are important skills for kids to learn early in life because they build logical foundations, promote creativity, and instill self-confidence. . With Metaverse and AR / VR tech, teaching these skills is far more captivating and engaging for children compared to traditional methods of teaching coding and design on flat 2D screens. Nothing holds a child’s attention more than 3D worlds she can build, walk around in, and invite her friends to play in.

How can my child get an early start with Metaverse creation?

There are two types of platforms that exist today to help kids ease into this new technology area.

The first is gaming platforms like Minecraft and Roblox. These are massive multiplayer three-dimensional worlds on the internet that a child can access via laptop, mobile, or tablet. The primary purpose of these platforms is entertainment and gameplay. However, they also have creation modes for advanced users where a child can start designing their own 3D world and write scripts in Lua (for Roblox) or Java (for Minecraft) to add custom interactions and behavior in their 3D worlds.

The second is educational platforms built specifically for teaching 3D, AR, and VR creation to kids. In this category, you will find HatchXR, a Metaverse design and coding platform built for a wide age group of 6 to 18. Younger students or inexperienced coders can start with Blocks-based coding, in a manner similar to MIT Scratch, while advanced coders or older students can use the popular language JavaScript. Regardless of age, a child using HatchXR can design and code their own Metaverse, Virtual Reality experiences, or Augmented Reality apps without prior experience.

These are yet the early days of the Metaverse and AR / VR, and kids will be the kings and queens of this new world. There’s no better time for them to start building for this world than today, and ed-tech companies, schools, and government bodies ought to do their part to make this tech more accessible to our children.



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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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