As large technology companies continue to push into the virtual reality market, some individuals are worried about the potential harms the area may have for children. In particular, advocates say that this push into the virtual world could become a safe haven for child sex predators.
Meta, previously Facebook, has launched a virtual reality app called Horizon Worlds, and while the app is only allowed for those 18+, children have already found their way in. Experts say that when children get involved in new online endeavours, sexual predators are typically the first to pounce.
Due to the novelty of the environment, there is a lack of current controls and protections in place in these new VR apps. Additionally, the nature of virtual reality and the Horizon World’s purpose of meeting new individuals create opportunities for these sexual predators.
Research into online virtual reality app VR Chat uncovered that the platform was filled with abuse, racism, harassment and pornography. The researchers discovered that numerous minors were on the platform and were exposed to this content consistently. In fact, they determined that every 7 minutes, a single user is exposed to abusive behaviour.
Meta and Horizon have both stated that they will implement new features to help prevent all individuals within their virtual reality games.
First published in O.Canada.com