The Metaverse, Extended Reality and Children

Rapid analysis | How might virtual environments evolve? And how are they likely to impact children and young adults?

A teenager plays a game on a mobile phone while lying in bed at home


Tens of millions of children and young people are already active in virtual environments and game spaces. While it remains to be seen whether the metaverse is the future or just hype, their potentially profound impact on children and youth makes it essential to engage with these technologies today.

This report considers both positive and negative effects that virtual environments could have on children; the drivers of and predictions for the growth of the metaverse; and the regulatory and policy challenges posed by the metaverse. The report also recommends actions for government and private sector stakeholders to take in order to empower children and protect against or mitigate potential harms.

Broad recommendations for government stakeholders, including policymakers and regulators:

  1. Assess and adjust, if needed, regulations and regulatory frameworks to ensure that metaverse-related technologies do not violate children’s rights.
  2. Foster an enabling environment to maximize the benefits of metaverse-related technologies and virtual environments for all children through promoting inclusion, child rights design and research.


Broad recommendations for technology companies providing metaverse-related products and services:

  1. Prioritize the best interests of the child in the development and implementation of metaverse-related technologies.
  2. Internally and with other industry stakeholders, civil society groups, researchers and regulators, work to protect children and address harmful content and behaviour in the metaverse.


Read more: For an overview on the topic, here are the 10 things you need to know about the metaverse, extended reality and children.


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Steven Vosloo and Melanie Penagos, UNICEF; Vladimir Radunovic, Boris Begovic and Stephanie Borg Psaila, Diplo
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