Our kids already live in the Metaverse
7 lessons from kids’ behavior in Roblox projecting on our future in the metaverse
Metaverses are a topic breaking all the hype records this year thanks to a number of factors, including Facebook becoming Meta, the NFT boom, the Roblox IPO, the rise of play-to-earn games, and of course the fact that people have accumulated extra money and free time online during the pandemic. I recently found myself immersed in the Metaverse trend as well after launching Brainika.co, where we bring education and Metaverses together. So, I wanted to share my thoughts!
I like observing the behavior of my 7 y.o. daughter and her friends as they play Roblox and extrapolate their behavior to what adults might be doing in 10 years from now.
Let me list a number of such observations and extrapolations:
- Observation: Kids go to Roblox’s 3D worlds to hang out with their real-life friends. They usually use voice to communicate with real-life friends and chat to talk to virtual friends and other kids from Roblox.
Extrapolation for adults of the future: chatting with a friend in a virtual bar while shooting darts or surfing the waves on a virtual beach is fun.
- Observation: Users constantly buy digital goods using Robux (digital currency of Roblox) which generally feels more valuable to them than cash.
Extrapolation for adults of the future: Digital currencies (crypto ?) become as important as cash since people will buy lots of digital stuff in the metaverse.
- Observation: 60% of children in the USA are active daily users of Roblox. Parents are already giving pocket money to children in Robux, not dollars. Parents also like to reward “good” behavior like completing homework or household chores with Robux because kids keep begging for more Robux and parents like to teach kids that earning Robux for good deeds is the better way than begging.
Extrapolation for adults of the future: there will be lots of ways to earn digital money in the metaverses. Some people will have their everyday job in the Metaverse.
- Observation: How kids look and what they wear in the virtual world is just as important as their real-life appearance. It’s better not to show up in Roblox without cool clothes, everyone will immediately see that you are a ‘noob’ without the cash to afford them.
Extrapolation for adults of the future: people will consume fashion, luxury, and other status signaling products in metaverses as much as they do in the physical world.
- Observation: They learn about new games and life hacks from bloggers on TikTok, Twitch, and YouTube, as well as from groups in Discord. Extrapolation for adults of the future: influencers’ impact will only get bigger.
- Observation: Kids see that their parents (that is us!) don’t understand what’s going on in Roblox — just like our parents didn’t understand what the hell we were doing with this new thing called “Internet” twenty years ago.
Extrapolation for adults of the future: generational gap between us the today’s kids will widen. Many of today’s adults will not adapt easily to the new life in the virtual world.
- Observation: Roblox is a creator’s economy. Children know from an early age they can make real money (a.k.a. Robux) in the virtual world by creating content: making videos, creating skins and various digital assets, and of course for making entire games. So, they already know from a young age that they can and should earn money in the virtual world to own cool pets and wear neon digital pants.
Extrapolation for adults of the future: creators’ and the freelance economy will get even bigger.
We are witnessing a generation that is growing up buying and owning digital assets from the age of five and earning digital money that feels more real to them than dollars. Their digital stuff in the virtual world is equally important to them if not more important than the stuff they can touch or feel in the physical world. I have no reason to believe that this perception will change as they grow.
In my opinion, a true Metaverse is primarily about a single ecosystem with its own economy, a plethora of content, and a convenient way of communication inside.
Mark Zuckerberg talks a lot about VR/AR experiences that will become so real that we will all get sucked into his Metaverse. Maybe, I am not 100% sure. I do believe however that parents will not rush to buy VR/AR glasses for children anytime soon. Parents are already struggling to limit kids’ time online and direct them to higher-quality content. Even without the immersive VR/AR, Roblox is a metaverse that is already here and it sucked in our kids who will become grownups in 7–10 years and will continue living in some sort of metaverse because that’s what they learned when they were kids.