How brands and advertisers can build kid-friendly experiences for the metaverse
Investing in experiences that are designed with all audiences in mind will help ensure we are collectively creating a welcoming metaverse for all, writes SuperAwesome CEO Dylan Collins.
Kids and young teens seek different ways to interact with content, both actively and passively
The metaverse will be a place where people of all ages meet, compete, create, and take part in events just like they do in the physical world. As the metaverse is built, it won’t just be the work of a single company – but the collective work of many. And, as we build out the metaverse collectively, it’s on all brands, advertisers and companies to work to ensure it is a safe experience for everyone it brings together.
There are many existing and evolving laws and regulations that provide guidance for brands who are hoping to engage young audiences in the metaverse, from COPPA in the United States, to GDPR-K in the EU and the Age Appropriate Design Code in the UK. Brands that focus on compliance with these laws coupled with a curated strategy built on principles of data-minimization and age-appropriate design will be well positioned to create metaverse experiences that are kid, teen and brand-safe.
Kids are becoming increasingly social when going online, with many turning to gaming as a way to hang out and chat with their friends. According to a recent study from SuperAwesome, 90% of children aged 6-16 identify as gamers. And when young audiences go online to game, they are complementing this with other social experiences: according to that same study, 65% of tweens (ages 10-12) are messaging friends and playing games at the same time, and that percentage only grows with the young teen (ages 13-16) audience.
Many brands have already taken notice of this trend, adapting their strategy to include social gaming activations for young audiences across platforms like Roblox and Minecraft. When building for these platforms – especially when focusing on younger audiences – it’s important to implement safeguards from the start that make it possible for kids to play and socialize safely, while designing environments and experiences that take their preferences into account.
Considerations for building kid-safe online experiences
Kids and young teens seek different ways to interact with content, both actively and passively. Beyond the gameplay itself, games can serve as an engine for community building and foster positivity. Technology that minimizes toxicity in environments built for young audiences is also essential. Our research tells us that while kids seek the recognition, excitement, and social experience that gaming can bring them, they want to enjoy these experiences in a safe and respectful environment.
Children also prefer platforms that are designed for them and for their peers. In a 2020 study, 88% of participating kids in the US reported that they preferred social platforms meant only for young audiences. It’s with this in mind that we at SuperAwesome offer PopJam, a social sharing space specifically designed for young audiences. To meet this audience where they are, we’ve created a moderated and welcoming environment that kids are able to enjoy without many of the downsides they encounter on adult-oriented social platforms. PopJam members are not able to share photos of themselves or post personal information, and the platform filters out negative language in order to create safe, non-toxic social spaces.
With PopJam, brands are able to build kid-oriented content, including filters and stickers, quizzes and polls, and fun mini-games – all in a kid-friendly and moderated environment. Brands are already using PopJam to deliver interactive and kid-appropriate content, housed on their own branded channels while building their audience, like Penguin Random House, who was able to grow more followers than any other US publishing channel on PopJam. And while PopJam is one way for brands to deliver kid-safe social experiences, many of these best practices can be applied to any brand activation for young audiences.
Responsible video content and engaging creators
In addition to connecting in games and digital social spaces, children and teens are spending more and more time consuming video and streaming content. While video content is a great way to meet kids where they’re at, it is important for brands and advertisers creating video content to be mindful of what kind of video content they create and promote.
Creating age-appropriate content protects both advertisers and their viewers – and it doesn’t require as much effort as you might think. Brands and advertisers can create content that appeals to all ages by avoiding the use of swearing or inappropriate slang, not promoting unhealthy habits (such as cigarettes, drugs or alcohol) and refraining from using visuals that portray realistic violence and gore.
There are also tech services advertisers and brands can use to ensure your promotional video content is only being shown on brand-safe and audience-appropriate channels. For example, SuperAwesome’s Kid Social Video (KSV) helps brands ensure that when they advertise on YouTube their content is only showing up in videos that are a safe, relevant match for that brand, as well as the kids and families they’d most like to reach. Our human and AI moderation has reviewed over 182 million pieces of youth-oriented media and we apply approximately 65 criteria for vetting content in addition to YouTube’s filters to help ensure age-appropriate digital experiences for your brand.
Brands looking to create kid-safe video content can also follow advertising standards based on the best practices set by self-regulatory and standards bodies like the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), which was created in the US to help companies comply with laws and guidelines that protect children under age 13 from deceptive or inappropriate advertising, or the relevant sections of the CAP and BCAP codes published by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK.
There’s no one-size-fits all approach when it comes to young audiences, but keeping these principles and best practices in mind is a good place to start. So whether you’re building a gaming activation to inspire young builders, launching a new way for teens to connect with your brand or creating an influencer campaign for your newest product, investing in experiences that are designed with all audiences in mind will help ensure we are collectively creating a welcoming metaverse for all.
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SuperAwesome is making the internet safer for young audiences. The company’s technology enables safe, compliant digital engagement with kids and Young Teens around the world. SuperAwesome is used by hundreds of brands and thousands of developers to enable over 12.5B kid-safe transactions every month. Founded in 2013, the company was acquired by Epic Games in 2020.Find out more