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Youth and Extended Reality

Youth and Extended Reality

An Initial Exploration of Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Realities


Are you curious about extended reality technologies and how young people can meaningfully engage with them? Interested in learning how these technologies might help promote well-being, learning, and self-expression? Would you like to understand some of the challenges these technologies present for youth? Looking ahead, are you excited about contributing to dialogue around ethical, social, and privacy- and safety-related questions around these technologies – and about how youth can participate in this dialogue?

Extended reality (XR) technologies are becoming increasingly pervasive in the lives of young people today, entering homes, classrooms, and museums. These immersive technologies hold great promise for learning, creativity, and self-expression, while coming with risks connected to accessibility, privacy, and safety.

This report seeks to showcase some of the Youth and Media team’s initial learnings and questions around the potential benefits and challenges extended reality technologies may present for youth (ages 12-18), as well as concrete XR examples in domains such as learning, physical and mental health, and diversity, equity and inclusion. The piece also highlights examples of ways youth may design their own XR experiences, creating pathways for them to contribute to the societal discourse around these systems.

This paper is not meant as a comprehensive overview of all youth-relevant XR experiences and their risks and benefits. Instead, the piece seeks to inspire further research and dialogue in the XR space and encourage a variety of stakeholders — including policymakers, international organizations, educators, and parents and caregivers — to discuss how we can, together, empower youth to meaningfully engage with XR technologies to promote learning, well-being, and inclusion, while addressing key concerns.

Youth and Extended Reality is a contribution to the World Economic Forum's Global Future Council on Virtual and Augmented Reality. The Council’s mission is to explore and raise awareness around the positive and negative aspects of XR technologies and to translate findings from research and practice into tangible outputs for decision makers.

This paper is one of the Youth and Media team's "spotlights" – short briefing documents that showcase the ways youth engage with the digital landscape, and what opportunities and challenges emerge from it. Previous spotlights include Youth Participation in a Digital World, Youth and the Digital Economy, Youth and Digital Citizenship+ (Plus), Youth and Cyberbullying, and Youth and Artificial Intelligence.

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Youth and Media

Youth and Media (YaM) encompasses an array of research, advocacy, and development initiatives around youth (age 12-18) and digital technology.