Meta Expands Access to Horizon Worlds for Teenagers – Virtual Reality Society

Meta’s social VR platform, Horizon Worlds, is now accessible to teenagers aged 13 and above in the United States and Canada. Previously, the platform was only available to users aged 18 and older. The new age policy will be implemented in the coming weeks, allowing the entire user base in North America to access the platform since the Quest device is restricted to users aged 13 and above.

To ensure the safety of younger users, Meta will make necessary changes to Horizon Worlds. This includes implementing new safety defaults and age-appropriate protections. Younger users will have control over their followers and who they follow back. Their profiles will be set to private by default, removing location information and preventing others from viewing their active status. Additionally, younger users will only have access to age-appropriate content based on individual content ratings for events and Worlds.

Meta has also introduced parental supervision tools to support parents and guardians of teenagers using Horizon Worlds. These tools can be accessed through the Family Center, providing information on how to have conversations about safety in VR.

In addition to these changes, all users will have access to a new voice mode feature. This feature distorts the voices of teenagers and unknown users by default. Users can raise their hands to their ears when voice mode is switched on to hear other users clearly.

Meta plans to roll out Horizon Worlds to teenagers gradually in order to monitor usage. A phased approach will be taken before a broader expansion is launched. However, specific details about the timeline for availability outside of North America have not been provided yet. Horizon Worlds was initially launched in the United States and Canada in December 2021, followed by a launch in the UK and other European countries in summer 2022.

It’s worth noting that The Wall Street Journal reported on the changes to Horizon Worlds’ age restriction back in February. An internal memo revealed that the platform was underperforming, with a weekly retention rate of 11% in January, below the company’s target of 20%. The memo also mentioned the goal of reaching 500,000 monthly active users in the first six months of 2023 and a million users by the end of the year. At the time of the memo, the platform had around 200,000 monthly active users.

The decision to open the platform to teenagers is likely an effort to expand its user base. There is currently no set release date for the web and mobile versions of Horizon Worlds, but Meta has stated that they will be coming soon.

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