People under the age of 18 should not spend more than an hour on metaverse, a new online virtual environment that incorporates a broad range of internet functions, due to the risk of addiction and loss of cognitive skills, Turkish experts have warned.
“Metaverse is surely a delighting experience which will increase the risk of addiction to it,” Veysi Çeri, an expert on child and adolescent psychiatry, told daily Milliyet.
Levent Ersan, the head of Social Media and Digital Security Research Center (SODİMER), agrees with Çeri, highlighting “there are serious risks that metaverse will cause.”
Metaverse, which is called “the future of the internet,” enables people to meet in virtual world platforms. The social media network company Facebook, which launched a VR world called “Facebook Horizon” in 2019, renamed the company as “Meta Platforms,” declaring attempts to develop a metaverse ecosystem.
“It is scientifically proven that spending an hour online for adolescents and two hours for adults helps get rid of stress,” Çeri said and added: “However, spending more time online causes real problems on the mental, emotional and physical development process.”
That’s why, the expert underlined, children face real threats by metaverse. “We see that children at the age of primary school education have difficulty in differentiating the real world from the virtual one.”
When asked what specifically metaverse can cause on humanity, he said, “Metaverse may break the emotional bond of the people to life.” According to Çeri, the youth may be “dead to the real world due to the metaverse.”
Eraslan has concerns on metaverse, too. “People will have cognitive and physical laziness. Spending overtime on a digital platform will cause addiction,” he said.
Remarking that this would cause real health problems to people, Eraslan noted that “people living with their avatars in a digital world may lose their real-world reality.”
The term “metaverse” has its origins in the 1992 science fiction novel “Snow Crash” as a portmanteau of “meta” and “universe.”
“Metaverse will be subject to many ethical problems. So, we will need new ethical codes or regulations,” he pointed.
Kürşat Ergün, the head of the Association of Informatics and Technology Law, shared the same concerns with Eraslan, underlining that new laws would be needed to overcome problems occurring on the metaverse.
“We will see new laws regarding games or robots,” he said and added: “People will have problems on property ownership in the metaverse. So, we will see new laws on this, too.”
Decentraland, which was formally established in February 2020, became the first famous metaverse platform where people buy virtual lands worth of millions of dollars, using cryptocurrencies.