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With Facebook changing its name to ‘Meta’ and news outlets releasing investigative reports around the online safety of virtual worlds, you may have found yourself wondering “What is the Metaverse?” over the last few months. You aren’t alone! Around 33% of UK adults still aren’t sure what the Metaverse is.

We know that any new technology can be overwhelming and even confusing, especially if you’re still getting used to your latest phone update! Our online safety experts have created this overview to help you understand what the Metaverse is, how it can be used, and why it might be appealing to young people. Keep reading to learn what risks could be associated with it and our top tips for keeping those in your care safe.

3D Avatar and Illustration of a girl wearing a VR headset

It’s important when learning about the Metaverse to remember that it is a concept that is still in development. This means most news reports and media stories, including this online safety article, are subject to change and may not cover every aspect as the Metaverse continues to evolve.

What is the Metaverse?

The Metaverse is a shared virtual space for users across the internet to access content, play games, purchase items, and build environments. It incorporates digital experiences such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and blockchain into a constant virtual space.

Augmented Reality (AR) – a digitally created experience that enhances the physical world with computer-generated graphics. A popular example is the hit game Pokémon Go, in which players use their phone camera to ‘find’ Pokémon around them.

Blockchain – an online list of digital transaction record. It is essentially a virtual wallet that records purchases and sales, and enables digital money (called cryptocurrency) to exist.

Imagine you come home from work or school after a long day and login to the Metaverse. You’re able to access an ‘online universe’ where the limits of your day-to-day life disappear in an instant. Want to fly on a broomstick or own a pet lion? Want to play chess with someone from across the world or have a picnic in the Colosseum? You can do all of this in the Metaverse while also interacting with other people – even if you’re just in your living room.

The true aim of the metaverse is to transform the way that people connect with each other online. However, the Metaverse is largely a concept that is currently in development. It is not an individual product that is owned by one company. The term ‘metaverse’ is being used by companies involved in its development, like Meta (Facebook) and Google, but it is a wider network that hopes to eventually connect various platforms and virtual spaces.

We are likely to continue hearing more and more about the Metaverse as it grows and changes.