The metaverse has opened up a new world of interaction and communication, especially for teens. Nearly a third of US teens own a VR device, with 14% using it weekly, according to a recent survey by Piper Sandler.

Our community of 52 tech-savvy teens who use a VR headset at least once a week recently weighed in on ways to engage them in metaverse research, preferences for sharing thoughts, and desired incentives for participating. 

      • 100% of our participants would welcome research opportunities in the metaverse
      • 44% would be more comfortable using an avatar to share their thoughts
      • Teens’ top rewards for participating include:  
  1. Cash/Gift cards 
  2. Game/VR-related rewards 
  3. The experience/opportunity to share their opinion



 We’ve laid out some whys and hows for building a research community in the metaverse:

Offer teens the opportunity to use avatars to make them feel more comfortable and safe

Teens are cautious about online interactions, especially in virtual reality. They are aware of the dangers of being present online and are protective of their identities. Many appreciate and rely on avatars to shield their identity on the internet. In addition to giving teens a sense of privacy and security, we found that avatars also provide teens with an anonymity that allows them to share their thoughts more freely, without fear of judgment.

“I am more comfortable sharing my thoughts as an avatar, because I don’t want to show others my real identity. I would rather remain anonymous.”

– Female 15 White / Caucasian

“I’d use an avatar for safety reasons because you know there’s creeps on the VR and I don’t want to show my face.”

– Female 17 Black / African / African American


“I am more comfortable sharing my thoughts as an avatar because it makes it feel more anonymous which in turn makes it easier to respond freely.”

– Male 17 White / Caucasian

To help teens feel safe participating in research online, build a secure, moderated and gated metaverse community space through invite-only access with parental consent required. Assure participants and parents that they will only encounter those who are approved to be in the study.  Allow participants to keep their identity private by using study-specific avatars or profiles. 


Guide and moderate the community

Unfortunately, anonymity can erode accountability. Some teens feel that their avatar allows them to “hide” and express themselves in uninhibited and unfiltered ways they would not otherwise in real life, where their actions are tied to their personal identity.

“Creating an avatar is really fun to do and cool to use. The only downside is that by using an avatar that might not look like you, one may be persuaded to act differently too … could be tempted to lie because sometimes like well what if I have purple hair and pink eyebrows which I don’t but it’s also made me think about acting to lie in certain games and like well maybe I can act rude, no one will know.

– Female 15 White / Caucasian

To keep teens accountable in their anonymity as they participate as avatars, create and uphold community guidelines focused on mutual respect and kindness as well as authentic representation and expression. Hands-on moderation may be necessary to enforce guidelines. This will help participants feel that they are in a non-judgemental space where they can share their thoughts freely, while also holding them accountable for their actions and words.

Use the metaverse to make co-creation more hands-on and fun

Teens feel the metaverse offers more opportunities to express themselves and enjoy  being part of a research community. They are excited by the opportunity to make the experience of something they enjoy better for themselves and others. 

“I think it would be easier for me to do this as an avatar because it’s anonymous and I would not necessarily have to fear being judged or anything like that and it’s easier to talk in that type of way …because it will be animated so it’s a lot easier instead of me expressing my ideas and thoughts to you and one-on-one in person…I think would be a lot easier behind the screen.”

– Male 16 Latin / Hispanic

I’m more comfortable sharing myself and expressing myself online with an avatar because it allows me to express myself more. It gives me more tools at my disposal and more abilities and things I can do that can alter my appearance at my will.”

– Male 15 White / Caucasian

“I think it would be great if I could do a part of the research activity on a social VR program because it adds more interaction to it and that allows me to kind of develop an opinion more because
I’m actually interacting with it and it’s more immersive.

– Male 15 White / Caucasian

As we shared in our recent blog post, Building a Recruitment Strategy That Works for Both Teens and Their Parents,” keeping teens engaged is no easy task. The metaverse offers new and immersive opportunities to engage teens in ways they will enjoy. To engage teens in the metaverse, you should offer them the opportunity to:

      • Create a common space
      • Customize an item/avatar 
      • Watch videos live 
      • Do fun challenges
      • Test games 
      • Conduct a debate 
      • Interview each other and report back

By creating a secure, moderated, and interactive VR research experience, companies can leverage the advantages of the metaverse to make teen participants feel safe, supported, and excited to participate.

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