In the latest development surrounding Meta’s plans to launch a metaverse app for teens, Democratic senators have called on the social media giant to halt the release of the app. The senators expressed concerns about the potential risks to the mental and emotional health of teenagers who might use the app.
Concerns about Mental Health and Safety Risks of Horizon Worlds App
According to reports, the app, called Horizon Worlds, is a virtual reality platform that allows users to create and explore their own digital worlds. The app is aimed at teenagers aged 13 and above, and it is scheduled for release in the coming months. However, several Democratic senators have raised concerns about the potential impact of the app on young people’s mental health.
In a letter addressed to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the senators expressed their concern that the app could exacerbate issues related to mental health and addiction among teenagers. The senators cited research that suggests that social media use can have negative effects on young people’s mental and emotional well-being, including increased rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
The senators also raised concerns about the potential for the app to be used to promote hate speech, harassment, and other forms of online abuse. They noted that the app would allow users to create their own digital worlds, which could be used to spread harmful content and messages.
Urge to halt the release of Horizon Worlds
“We believe that the potential risks to young people’s mental and emotional health and wellbeing from the use of this app are too great to ignore,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to halt the release of Horizon Worlds until you can demonstrate that it will not pose a threat to the safety and wellbeing of teenagers.”
The senators’ letter comes amid growing concern about the impact of social media on young people. In recent years, there has been a growing body of research suggesting that social media use can have negative effects on young people’s mental and emotional well-being.
Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has not yet responded to the senators’ letter. However, the company has previously defended its plans to launch the app, saying that it will be subject to strict safety measures to protect young users.
Meta Responds to Concerns over Horizon Worlds App
In a statement, Meta spokesperson Dani Lever said: “We take our responsibility to protect young people on our platforms very seriously. Horizon Worlds will be subject to strict safety measures and parental controls, and we will work closely with parents, educators, and experts to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for teenagers to use.”
Despite Meta’s assurances, some experts remain skeptical about the potential risks associated with the app. In an interview with CoinGape, Dr. Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, expressed concern about the potential impact of the app on young people’s mental health.
“I think we need to be very careful about introducing new technologies that have the potential to exacerbate existing problems,” Dr. Twenge said. “We know that social media use is associated with increased rates of anxiety and depression among young people, so I think it’s important to proceed with caution when it comes to new technologies like Horizon Worlds.”
The debate over the safety of Horizon Worlds is likely to continue in the coming months, as Meta moves forward with its plans to launch the app. While the company has promised to implement strict safety measures, it remains to be seen whether those measures will be enough to protect young users from the potential risks associated with the app.