Perceptions on Digital, Virtual Environments and the Metaverse. An Exploratory Study with Younger Users

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Matteo ZallioOliver Korn

Abstract: Digital, virtual environments and the metaverse are rapidly taking shape and will generate disruptive changes in the areas of ethics, privacy, safety, and how the relationships between human beings will be developed. To uncover some of some of the implications that will impact those areas, this study investigates the perceptions of 101 younger people from the generations Y and Z. We present a first exploratory analysis of the findings, focusing on knowledge and self-perception. Results show that these young generations are seriously doubting their knowledge on the metaverse and virtual worlds – regarding both the definition and the usage. It is interesting to see only a medium confidence level, considering that the participants are young and from an academic environment, which should increase their interest in and the affinity towards virtual worlds. Males from both generations perceive themselves as significantly more knowledgeable than females. Regarding a fitting definition, almost 40% agreed on the metaverse as a “universal and immersive virtual world that is made accessible using virtual reality and augmented reality technologies”. Regarding the topic in general, several participants (almost 40%) considered themselves sceptics or “just” users (38%). Interestingly, generation Y participants were more likely than the younger generation Z participants to identify themselves as early adopters or innovators. In result, the considerable amount of “mixed feelings” regarding digital, virtual environments and the metaverse shows that in-depth studies on the perception of the metaverse as well as its ethical and integrity implications are required to create more accessible, inclusive, safe, and inclusive digital, virtual environments.

Keywords: Metaverse, virtual environments, virtual reality, VR, augmented reality, AR, mixed reality, MR, generation Y, generation Z, gen Y, gen Z, ethics, inclusion

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1003930

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