Should Meta Lower Its VR Age Restriction to 10? 

Last week Meta announced that new parent-managed accounts would be introduced to its VR headsets. This allows parents to create accounts for 10–12-year-olds on Quest 2 or the upcoming Quest 3. Giving further flexibility to family devices, these accounts would allow parents control over what apps could be downloaded. Furthermore, Meta would then highlight age-appropriate experiences on the Quest Store because the preteens’ age would have to be shared. This is a major policy reversal and begs the question of whether Meta should be lowering its VR age restriction in the first place. 

Firstly, you must be aware of the original age limit VR companies opted for.  Even though virtual reality technology has existed for decades, its recent resurgence in the early 2010s and subsequent launch as a consumer gaming device in 2016 posed a question/problem. If a child used a VR headset would having screens so close to developing eyes cause any long-term damage?  

The ”official” 13 Age Rating 

This was an unknown because how do you test for this without conducting scientific trials? Nobody is going to sign their kid up for that! Well, companies like Meta and HTC settled on a minimum age rating of 13 years old due to how the eye develops at a young age. Deeming by that point a child’s eye has developed sufficiently so no issues should occur.  

However, there are other factors that come into play, such as how responsible a child under 13 would be in VR. Meta’s Quest Safety Centre even states that “VR systems are not toys” and that: “Younger children have greater risks of injury and adverse effects than older users.” 

So why change a policy that’s been in place for the best part of 10 years and that no other VR company seems to be budging on? 

Meta VR Age Restriction image1

Parental control 

VR can be used for a wide variety of applications, not just games, especially in the education sector. Over the years more content has catered to this. Titles like Librarium or Prisms Math are designed for a wide age range, whilst the effects of VR are better understood now. 

Then there’s the fact that kids are naturally drawn to exciting new technology. So being able to protect and tailor their experience on a platform is of paramount importance.  

These new parent-managed Meta accounts can’t be set up by kids. Preteens need to get their parent’s approval to set up an account. Once they’ve done so, parents can control whether an app can be downloaded or used, as well as block access to apps at any time. Time limit controls can be put into place alongside various privacy and safety settings. 

As mentioned, parents will need to share their child’s age with Meta to make this work. However, the company’s data history isn’t exactly great. But with that data Meta notes that it will: “not serve ads to this age group.” And parents have the option to choose whether their child’s data is used to improve the experience. 

Will this work? 

At the end of the day, Meta can implement these settings but it’s up to parents to enact them. And that brings us to the final problem, are most parents bothered? 

Step onto social apps like VRChat or Rec Room and you’ll constantly encounter swearing adolescents running amok. Highlighting the issue of family devices being open to everyone. Away from VR anyone that’s been into a videogame store – the ones that still exist – and spotted a parent buying their child a game that’s clearly age inappropriate.  

What do think of Meta’s policy reversal, lowering its VR age restriction to 10 years old? Let us know in the comments below.