Meta is adding parental controls to all Quest virtual reality headsets, letting guards check underage users’ screen time and receive alerts or approval requests for purchases. The news comes alongside an expansion of parental control options on Instagram as well as new safety features in its Horizon Worlds VR social platform, which is expanding to the UK this week.
As outlined in a blog post and first introduced in March, Meta’s new options are similar to those found on phones. Using them requires linking a teen’s Facebook account – which is required to use the headset – with that of a parent or guardian. (Children under 13 aren’t supposed to use the Quest, and people under 18 can’t access Horizon Worlds, so these features are meant for other VR applications.)
Once the accounts are linked, the adult can view all the apps a teen owns as well as their Oculus Friends list. Teens can submit requests to buy apps that are blocked by the age rating system, and adults can also choose to block specific apps, including the system’s web browser. They can also block the Link and Air Link features, which support playing PC VR content on the Quest.
Meta sees its future in virtual and augmented reality tech rather than traditional social networks, but its executives have acknowledged that user safety poses a potentially “existential” problem for VR social spaces. The issue is becoming more pressing as Meta integrates multiuser experiences directly into the Quest’s homescreen, a feature that’s being released in the latest update. Horizon Home is pitched as a place for small gatherings of friends and family – and if that family includes children, Meta’s new features offer a little more control over what else they’re doing in VR.