As media companies contemplate the future of the metaverse -- how it will affect our lives, which companies will be most effective at bringing it to fruition, what it will look like –– a new survey shows that over half of older Americans have never heard of the term.
Toluna, a media company specializing in market research studies, surveyed 2,006 Americans ages 13 and up about their understanding and perceptions of the metaverse. What they found was that understanding of the term is highly dependent on a person's age.
Not surprisingly, nearly half of teens (46%) between the ages of 13 and 17 said they knew about the metaverse, compared to 25% of those age 18 and over.
But 54% of those over the age of 54 said they had never heard of the term, while 36% of respondents 18-54 said they had heard of the metaverse but didn’t know what it was.
While the market surrounding the metaverse is still chaotic, and billions of dollars are funneled into crypto, new immersive technologies, and futuristic concepts, Toluna conducted the study to see what possibilities around the metaverse respondents were most excited about.
The study found that teens were most interested in trying new virtual experiences, such as virtual gaming (55%), watching TV and movies (52%), and shopping (40%).
Those 18-34 were most interested in the same activities but to a lesser extent than teens, with 44% excited about possibilities for virtual gaming, 44% for watching virtual TV and movies, and 32% for virtual shopping experiences.
However, 45% of Americans over the age of 54 weren’t interested in trying any virtual experiences.
The second most popular response for this age group was watching TV and movies (33%), followed by learning (23%).
Other categories such as real estate, physical therapy, and workplace applications of the metaverse were the least popular options among all three age groups.
In general, adults were most excited about the ability to customize their avatars (47%), and teens were most excited about their ability to play games with friends (68%), following customizing avatars (66%), and personalized experiences (65%).
Toluna also gained some revealing insights by measuring the specific concerns each age group has around the looming metaverse.
Respondents whose own children were still living at home were most concerned about their children’s privacy (55%) and their access to mature content (53%). Spending too much time in virtual reality (49%), interacting with unknown participants (48%), and bullying (47%) were other highly rated concerns.
Teens also feared breaches of privacy in the metaverse, but at a lower rate (35%). This age group was also concerned about additional technology expenses the metaverse might require (31%), and poor graphics (30%).
Exactly half of teens reported being frightened about the metaverse’s possibilities, and 61% said they would rather use their mobile, tablet, or desktop devices for digital interactions than a virtual reality (VR) headset.
Adults between the ages of 18 and 54 feared a lack of privacy (38%), technology expenses (31%), and the possibility of less human connection (30%) -- which, at 38%, was the top concern for adults over 54, followed by a lack of privacy (36%) and technology expenses (35%).
Overall, teens (64%) and adults (74%) both felt their most meaningful connections were in person.
“Technology means different things to different generations and produces distinct levels of engagement,” says Tammy Young, Toluna’s senior vice president of technology, media, telecom, and entertainment in North America. “While respondents in this study agree that their most meaningful connections are currently in person, brands should have a plan for the Metaverse that shows they understand and can connect with their consumer to deliver experiences and products they truly want.”