Update May 16, 2022: Today, we’re rolling out the ability for people to use the unlock pattern on their Quest headsets to lock specific apps directly from VR. Once a given app is locked, you’ll need to draw your unlock pattern to unlock and launch it. This update lets parents and guardians prevent teens 13+ from accessing games and experiences they feel aren’t age-appropriate by using an unlock pattern to lock access to those apps.
This is an important step toward giving parents and teens 13+ more control over their VR experience. For more information on today’s software update, please click here.
We have a responsibility to help keep people safe on our platforms. From single-player games and apps to social experiences where behavioral norms are still being established, VR presents unique benefits as well as unique challenges. VR is still a relatively new medium for many. And for parents, guardians, and responsible adults with teens ages 13+ in their lives, it can be hard to know where to start. Providing age-appropriate and safe experiences for teens while also empowering them to explore in VR is a balancing act. We want to help parents, guardians, and teens better navigate VR by providing support and education on the tools that are available today—as well as those coming in the future.
Today, we’re announcing VR parental supervision tools, which will begin rolling out to all Quest headsets over the coming months. This is an early look at our plans to support our community by providing platform-level controls for parents and teens ages 13+. We’ve been working with industry experts Larry Magid at Connect Safely, Dr. Michael Rich at Digital Wellness Lab, Janice Richardson at Insight SA, and Jutta Kroll at Stiftung Digitale Chancen to help inform our approach and better understand how we can best meet our community’s needs.
As a first step to giving people more customized control over their VR experience, we’ll expand the functionality of our existing unlock pattern on Quest headsets. Today, you can create an unlock pattern as an extra layer of security to prevent others from accessing your device or saved passwords. Beginning in April, we’ll introduce the ability for people to use the unlock pattern to lock specific apps directly from VR. Once a given app is locked, you’ll need to draw your unlock pattern to unlock and launch it. This will allow parents to prevent teens 13+ from accessing games and experiences they feel aren’t age-appropriate by using an Unlock Pattern to lock access to those apps.
Next, in May 2022, we’ll begin to automatically block teens 13+ from downloading or purchasing IARC rated age-inappropriate apps in the Quest Store as well as launch our initial suite of parental supervision tools, which will include the ability for parents to override those blocks on a case-by-case basis. Different teens have different maturity levels, and parents know their teens best. We also know that customizable controls, teen autonomy, and adjustable settings are important to our community. Once a teen links their parent to their account, teens will be able to request permission to override blocks, and parents will have the ability to approve or deny each request.
Our initial suite of parental supervision tools, which include a Parent Dashboard accessible from the Oculus mobile app, will allow parents to link to their teen’s account. The process is initiated by the teen, and both the parent and teen have to agree to the experience. This is just a starting point, informed by careful collaboration with industry experts, and we’ll continue to grow and evolve our parental supervision tools over time.
To start, we’ll offer the following protections, which the linked parent can access via the Parent Dashboard in the Oculus mobile app:
Teens with linked accounts will be able to see a read-only view of the Parent Dashboard from the Oculus mobile app.
As a reminder, Quest devices are only intended for use by people ages 13+ and are not designed for younger children. This is stated in our Terms of Service, product onboarding, and Safety Center. And the parental supervision features we provide are designed to serve the needs of teens ages 13+. For additional tips and tools parents can use to help keep teens 13+ safe in VR, please click here.
Meta also introduced Family Center today, a new place for parents and guardians to access Instagram supervision tools and resources from leading experts. Click here to learn more.
This is just the beginning—an important step on a longer journey. We realize that these initial protections are a starting point, and we’re committed to building more customized controls for teens and their parents. We’ll continue to develop and expand our parental supervision features over time as we learn more about what parents and teens need from our platform. Please share your feedback with us on the Oculus Forums. And stay tuned for more details as we build out our parental supervision tools this summer and beyond.