While the frog cooking in a slowly heating pot is a myth, the fact of normalization is all too real.
For children, everything that surrounds them is “normal.” That’s why as a culture, we abhor things like child abuse. Adults are supposed to protect kids because of this inherent vulnerability. But what if adults, too, have become blunted to things that exploit kids.
It’s hard to tell when it became OK to market to children to make sales to adults, but it goes a long way back. Today, it is an advertising core practice.
If it was just product marketing, this pernicious habit could be controlled. Instead, the problem is that using children to influence adults is now pervasive.
For example, Politicians routinely use potential hard to children to gain support for agendas that have little to do with kids.
The education industry has created the myth that children will fail in life without formal instruction.
Nowhere has is this manipulation more malignant than in digital games. If you are interested in the details, recommend this article: The New Ways Kids App Makers Are Monetizing.
The new trend is interactive marketing. See: Marketing to Kids Through Interactive & Experiential Marketing
Comes now the metaverse that is so beyond what most adults understand that determining its potential harm is effectively impossible for most parents.
For Facebook to rebrand itself as Meta tells you all you need to know. But if you need more evidence, Microsoft just bought Activision for $68bn. While this is the largest all-cash acquisition in history, it only makes Microsoft the number three company in the industry after Sony and Tencent. These humongous numbers mean “there’s gold in them there hills.”
When you combine the existing ways, our culture already has to make money by pandering to and manipulating children with the scale and resources of this industry; it is truly frightening.
Add to that; these companies make nothing, their whole product is just dreams, yet they have pervasive access to kids.
What can be done?
Not all gaming is bad. Games such as Minecraft are truly educational. And there are tons of apps to help kids make positive changes.
But nothing will be as effective in protecting children as helping them understand how marketing work. They also need to know how the metaverse works. Indeed, there is no reason kids can’t create their own versions of metaverse games.
That’s truly protecting by empowering.
Here’s a perspective on the metaverse I totally agree with. https://www.theguardian.com/games/2022/jan/25/ive-seen-the-metaverse-and-i-dont-want-it