The growing number of children entering the metaverse has sparked concerns about their safety. The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), a US self-regulatory body overseen by BBB National Programs, has taken a proactive role in addressing these concerns.
In a recent announcement, CARU unveiled a comprehensive guide outlining “guardrails” for safeguarding children within the metaverse. This guide is intended to serve as a valuable resource for companies, offering insights into the regulatory landscape governing advertising and privacy, as well as best practices for applying these regulations in specific scenarios.
The vulnerability of children as an audience, attributed to their limited knowledge and experience, is a key focal point of the guide. The document underscores several recommendations and best practices for businesses looking to create metaverse experiences for children, ensuring compliance with advertising and privacy laws while fostering responsible online engagement.
One critical recommendation is to make a clear distinction between advertising and non-advertising content, accompanied by the use of child-friendly language (e.g., labeling advertisements as “This is an Ad”).
Beyond advertising and privacy considerations, the guide also addresses potential emotional and physical risks to children, such as cyberbullying, exposure to violence, and misinformation.
Rukiya Bonner, Director of CARU, emphasized the importance of this effort, stating, “Tens of millions of children under age 13 are active in immersive, virtual environments and game spaces, and while children can benefit from such hands-on experiences, they are also subject to unique potential risks and harms.”
While CARU’s primary focus is on children, other government organizations have expressed parallel concerns regarding adults taking part in the metaverse and the broader Web3 landscape.
Notably, Dubai introduced a Responsible Metaverse Self-Governance Framework two weeks ago, prioritizing privacy, transparency, and inclusivity to address metaverse challenges.
During the same period, a UK committee expressed concerns about NFT copyright infringements, calling for government intervention to protect creators and fans.