The Metaverse: Explained in words you’ll understand

Look how far we have come… 30 years ago you’d almost laugh at the fact that soon enough two people on opposite sides of the planet would be able to put a set of goggles on and interact with each other almost as if they were standing in the same room… except one looks like an alien and the other a guy in a suit… but we will get to that in a sec…

Before deep diving into what the metaverse is, it is important to understand what the internet has allowed us to do up until today.

At a quick glance, the internet has;

  • allowed us to find new ways of communication and connected us in different ways via social media,
  • created a hub for information and knowledge,
  • allowed us to entertain ourselves with online gaming and streaming,
  • allowed for different styles of working and studying, and
  • adapted to be part of everyday lives.

The internet has advanced a great amount since its very early days, but has it hit its limit? Is this as far as the internet can now take us? What else could it possibly do…

Enter: The Metaverse.


What is the metaverse and where did the idea come from?

The metaverse is what is known to be the next generation of the internet. It is essentially a 3D version of the internet which will allow people to do even more things than they have been able to do today or in the past. We will also see new advancements and new technologies that have only really been seen in sci-fi movies and thought to be many years away or too expensive for the average household.

The idea for the metaverse came from a 1992 science fiction novel written by Neal Stephenson called Snow Crash. He mentions in his novel how the main character enters a new world where they put on a pair of googles and “enter a new world known as the Metaverse” and “become whatever they want and do what they want” through an avatar they created. Since then, this idea has been developed by leading technology companies, with the front runner and the biggest name of them all being Facebook, who have since changed their name to Meta.
metaverse example 1

How will the metaverse be created?

The CEO and founder of Meta (Facebook), Mark Zuckerberg has big visions for the metaverse and how it is going to change the way we communicate and operate online. He has envisioned the metaverse to be pretty similar to what Neal Stephenson wrote in his novel, where a person can put on a set of Virtual Reality Goggles and enter the metaverse as an avatar that they create of themselves. Your own avatar can look however you want it to look, even if it’s a robot, an animal or a fictional character.

There are three main components that are needed to bring the metaverse together. These components are:

  1. Physical Reality – The real things we are able to see and do in day-to-day life without technology.
  2. Augmented Reality – An enhanced, digitized, 3D version of physical reality, combining the real world elements with layers of computer generated elements.
  3. Virtual Reality (VR) – This is different to Augmented Reality as VR is a completely computer generated reality.

Together, all three are the major pillars that will create the metaverse.

When is the metaverse coming?

The creation of the metaverse is still in its infant stages and it’s hard to pin point when it is arriving at its full potential as new ideas and technologies are coming to light every day. However, it may surprise you to hear that it’s already here, in some form and you and your kids may be using it.

The metaverse is essentially an online world that operates as a map with the user, people, being the drivers. Games such as Roblox, Minecraft, Call of Duty, Fortnite and Facebook Horizon already have mini worlds where players can customize an avatar and roam around and play their games in their map. The aim of the metaverse is to make this interoperable, meaning you can use things that are used in one game, such as a costume, car or weapon and bring them to use in another game/world. This is something that has never been seen before and would bring online gaming and socializing to the next level.

metaverse example 2

What will the metaverse allow us to do and how could it used?

As mentioned earlier, the metaverse will change the way that people operate and communicate online. It will allow people to create avatars of themselves, similar to how other products and games allow us to do so today, as well as communicate in a 3D virtual world rather than have a screen barrier. It will rely on the use of 3D virtual reality goggles to give a user the full experience, where they can sit at a table with the VR goggles on and pretend they are actually sitting at the table with the other avatars. Online gaming will advance to the next level, where instead of sitting down in front of a screen with a remote, you can again put those VR goggles on, and play the game and feel and see as if you are in the game itself.


Potential dangers of the metaverse

The full flow of dangers of the metaverse are really yet to be seen, however it can be expected to be similar to those that we see with the current use of the internet and online gaming. Those include:

An article published by the Cyberbullying Research Centre, Child Grooming and the Metaverse – Issues and Solutions, also motions one of the biggest risks to come within the metaverse. With the increased use of the metaverse by young teens, there is a higher risk of child grooming, as there is less visibility for parents to see what is happening, being said or being done on the screen due to the use of VR headsets.

metaverse example 3

How can we prepare for the metaverse?

There are some really simple steps that can be followed to get your kids to be safe when interacting within metaverse or metaverse-like VR games.

Just like normal gaming and social media accounts,

  • it is always recommended to only interact and befriend those that you know in real life and in person
  • always question or tell someone if something doesn’t seem quite right, and report online harm
  • set the right expectations with your kids about what should and shouldn’t occur
  • keep a healthy digital balance by limiting times and encouraging rest and screen-down time
  • set content and gaming rating limits
  • have a go at it yourself, sit down with your kid and be interested in what they enjoy, what they’re wanting to do, and try to get involved
  • stay up to date on what is going on with the functionality with the metaverse
  • role model a healthy use of technology

Some of our handy resources to keep you and your family safe online:

Author: Luca Gennai | Cyber Security Officer, Cyber Safety Project