AT the end of February 2022 a message came to one of the groups whatsapp I. The message contains two news links related to cases of children and women in metaverse. The first is the story of a BBC researcher named Andy Burrows. He shared his experience while trying the app metaverse which applies a minimum age limit rating of 13 years for its users.
Andy entered the app disguised as a 13-year-old girl. However, it turned out that he was able to enter a club striptease without any age verification. There, he admitted to entering a special room where avatars (characters in cyberspace) saw things that were inappropriate for minors; sexual harassment, grooming (incitement) sexual, simulated sex, offered sex tools and condoms, even approached by adult men and threats of rape in the virtual world.
The second link, news about a woman from London named Nina Jane Patel. He claimed to have experienced sexual harassment in the form of rape by several male avatars while in the metaverse being developed by meta. Jane Patel recounts her experience when she was verbally and sexually abused. Although it happened virtually, the experience traumatized him and described it as a real nightmare.
Reading the news above, as a woman as well as a mother who is engaged in various digital literacy activities, this news certainly worries me. There are various family problems in the digital era that are currently unresolved, such as internet addiction, cyber bullying, online fraud, violence, pornography, mental health, online sexual exploitation, and various other threats of negative content. As is metaversethen there will be one more homework for parents to prepare their families to enter this era and its opportunities and challenges.
Get to know the metaverse
Metaverse is actually not new, especially for gamers. The history of his journey has started since 1956. At that time the United States cinematographer, Morton Leonard Heilig, created the machine virtual reality (VR) for the first time named Sensorama. The machine is able to simulate the experience of riding a motorcycle by combining three-dimensional video, audio, atmosphere and seats that can vibrate.
Term metaverse himself first appeared in a novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson in 1992. In the novel, Neal tells about humans who can interact with each other virtually in a 3D room. Their presence is represented by their avatars, both male and female, whose appearance can be made according to their wishes.
Later, the term metaverse began to be widely discussed since the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, changed the name of his company from Facebook to Meta Platform Inc. Metaverse with the concept of a virtual world, is predicted to be the future of the internet. In Indonesia, several celebrities have started to expand their business in the metaverse, such as the couple Raffi Ahmad and Nagita Slavina. They are rumored to be building a platform games metaverse under the RansVerse flag. Through this platform, RansVerse users will be able to buy and sell goods and various entertainment content sold in virtual shops or malls.
Through metaverse In this way, we can enter the virtual world and perform various activities in the real world, such as gathering together at an event, shopping, traveling to various parts of the world and even outer space, conducting various experiments, making our own land and selling property, entering into game. The presence of humans in the virtual world is represented by avatars that can be created by themselves and connected using headset VR and glasses Augmented Reality (AR).
Digital literacy is the key
Like a knife, it will be a useful tool when used for cooking and dangerous when used for evil. As well as metaverse. As a medium, metaverse can be used for positive things that provide opportunities and benefits for many people, and vice versa. Everything depends on us, humans, as users.
I personally believe that technology is a gift from God to facilitate and facilitate humans in various areas of life. Therefore, we must be grateful for it by making the best use of it for useful things. To be optimal, one way that can be done is to understand and apply digital literacy from an early age.
In simple terms, I define digital literacy as a person’s ability to receive, process, disseminate and utilize digital technology and devices. In order to be well literate, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Kominfo), Siberkreasi and Japelidi formulated 4 (four) pillars of digital literacy, namely: 1) Digital skills (digital skills), 2) Digital culture (digital culture), 3) Digital ethics (digital ethics), and 4) digital security (digital safety).
These four pillars become an inseparable unit to equip us to navigate the digital era. The first pillar, digital prowess, focuses on our ability to use technological tools both in operating hardware and software. Proficiency also refers to our ability to use the internet as an opportunity to grow.
Facing the era metaverse, we as parents certainly have to learn more about this technology. If we can’t master it, at least we know and understand it. That way, we can be a fun discussion friend for our children when they ask about metaverse. The second pillar is digital culture. Culture in the digital space is an important thing that must be understood by teenagers so that they can grow into people who are pious, have care, love the homeland, tolerance, mutual respect for differences, empathy and other good characters in accordance with the values of Pancasila.
Meanwhile, the third pillar, namely digital ethics, focuses on a person’s ability to be wise, polite and ethical when surfing the digital world. By realizing that the virtual world is the same as the real world, our youth will be more careful in interacting and communicating in the digital space. They will understand how to regulate behavior, maintain grammar, filter and distribute correct information, and other ethical behaviors to avoid being cyberbullying, hoax, hate speechinsults, and so on.
The last pillar, namely digital security refers to the ability to recognize, implement, increase awareness of personal data protection and digital security. Through this pillar, our youth can be invited to understand that what we share will leave a digital footprint. Therefore, it is important to know personal data and how to protect it. So that it is not used by irresponsible parties for fraud, kidnapping, data theft and so on which can cause a lot of losses.
By providing understanding and knowledge of digital literacy, it is hoped that our children will have high spiritual, moral, and ‘immunity’ values for information. So that later they will be able to think critically and have independence in choosing what content is good and not for themselves, even though we as adults are not beside them.