Meta Quest immersive virtual reality headsets have long been available for adults and teens. And now, Meta is enabling parents to set up parent-managed accounts for pre-teens aged 10, 11, and 12.
A parent-managed Meta account for pre-teens is limited to allowing them to use the Meta Quest 2 or Quest 3 headsets. It does not permit the pre-teen to use Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp or any other Meta app or service not approved for their age. Like a smartphone, tablet or computer, Quest headsets work with a wide range of apps and activities, including many appropriate for ages 10 and up.
With a parent-managed account, the parent must approve their pre-teen’s use of the Quest device and manage their experience. Parents can also:
- Approve or deny the downloading, purchase, or usage of any app
- View all the apps your child owns
- Manage and view time spent in VR
- Set time limits and schedule breaks
- Manage account and privacy settings
What are Meta Quest headsets?
Meta Quests are headsets that immerse you into a three-dimensional “virtual world” or “mixed reality” experience, enabling the user to see and interact with both the real-world environments and objects as well as VR content. Although you may be at home in a room, the technology can make you feel as if you’re floating in space, riding a roller coaster, or playing a game of tennis. That level of immersion can greatly enhance your experience.
Apps and ratings
Like smartphones, VR headsets run apps. Meta produces some of the apps that run on Quest devices, but many are from third-party developers. Some are free, others require payment and some allow for in-app purchases. You can download apps from the Quest app store, which you can access within the headset or through the Meta Quest app. Pre-teen accounts require parental permission before a child can download an app or make an in-app purchase, once they become available. If you are in the US, apps are rated by the Entertainment Rating Software Board (ESRB) such as “E” for everyone, “E 10+” for 10 and older, “T” for Teen, “M” for 17+ and “AO” for adults only. Ratings are general recommendations with parents having the ability to approve or deny apps based on what they consider appropriate for their child or teen.
Setting up your pre-teen’s account
To use a Quest headset, you need the Meta Quest mobile app, available in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Parent-managed accounts are for children who are at least 10 and under 13 years of age in the US (ages may vary by country). Children younger than 10 are not permitted to have a Meta account or use Quest devices. Teens 13 and older can set up and manage their account on their own, and parental supervision is also available for teen accounts.
If you’re sharing a headset, it’s important for everyone to sign-in using their own account, especially to ensure that children ages 10-12 and teens have access to age-appropriate experiences and parental supervision tools. Parents and older siblings should sign-out of their account before handing the headset to a child or teen.
Importance of correct age
It’s very important for children to enter their correct birthday when setting up an account, and why it’s important when you’re helping to set up your child’s account that you ensure their age is accurate. The correct age helps Meta provide age-appropriate and safer experiences by making sure age-appropriate settings are in place as Meta explains in this help article.
Setting up a pre-teen account
The parent needs a Meta account to add and manage their pre-teen’s account. You can start by downloading the Meta Quest app to your smartphone or go to the tools section in Family Center.
Ideally, the pre-teen and parent should set up their accounts together. It’s easier, faster and can be a great time to talk about the device, how the pre-teen plans to use it and a chat about safety, security and privacy. Sometimes, however, that’s not practical, so Meta offers two ways to set up a pre-teen account.
If you’re both together, your child can start the process on their device (phone, tablet or laptop) or your device, but the child will need to hand it to you to approve the account and configure privacy settings. These settings include whether hand and body tracking is enabled on the headset and whether to share additional data to Meta to personalize experiences.
If you’re not together, you can set up a pre-teen account through your account on the Meta Quest app or at Family Center. If you don’t have a Meta account, you can create one on the app or Family Center.
For verification purposes, the parent will be asked to enter a payment method (credit or debit card) which is used only to verify their identity. Meta will charge a nominal amount to the credit card, which will be fully refunded.
The child then sets up their Meta Horizon Profile. The Meta Horizon profile is how your child will show up in VR. They’ll be asked to enter a username, not their real name. Parents might want to talk with their child about picking a suitable username.
Privacy and other settings can be later changed by the parent at Family Center or in the app.
Time management, app approval and settings
Parents can view and manage their child’s time spent in VR in the Meta Quest app and Meta Family Center on their phone or the web. Family Center is also used to manage teen accounts on other Meta products including Instagram but is divided by product.
It can be used to view total time spent on the device as well as time on each app, and to set daily time limits, including different time limits for different days of the week. You could, for example, limit your child to one hour during week days and give them additional time on weekends. You can also schedule mandatory breaks, such as not allowing them to use the headset between 7 and 10 PM on weekdays.
Family Center is also where you approve or reject the use of specific apps and data sharing permissions. Family Center is also where parents can view or change privacy settings.
Online safety and privacy advice
Because VR headsets can connect to the internet, the apps on them carry the same risks as any connected device, including computers, smartphones and consoles. These can include age-inappropriate content, cyberbullying and harassment and inappropriate contact that could lead to sexual exploitation. With all connected devices, parents are concerned about their child’s privacy and how much time they spend on their devices.
Not all apps available on Quest are suitable for your child. Meta requires app developers to put age ratings on their apps (ESRB in the US), and by default apps can only be downloaded by users who are at or above the minimum age, which can vary by app and country unless a parent or guardian allows their child to download apps rated above their age.
Because virtual reality is so immersive, the emotional impact of abusive behavior can be more intense than it may be on two-dimensional screens like phones and computers. Also, because avatars of potentially abusive people can share space with your pre-teen’s avatar, there is a possibility of what feels like physical stalking or abuse that can elicit fears and other intense reactions.
Again, this is one of several reasons people need to be honest about their age when signing up and for parents to know what their child is doing on their headset (parents can watch by casting the VR video to a nearby device). It’s also a good reason to use the parental management tools described in this guide.
Using VR headsets requires users to take physical safety precautions, and not all children 10 or older are ready to use them. Parents should carefully consider the information on this page to determine whether their child is ready. Younger and smaller-sized children, in particular, may not be ready to use a Meta Quest headset.
For example, it’s important that their child can get a good fit and clear vision in the headset. Parents should check their child’s fit and vision because if they can’t get a secure fit and clear vision, they may not be ready to use it. If you’re sharing a headset, it might be necessary to adjust it between users. Parents should also supervise their preteen’s use of the headset to make sure they understand how to use it safely and reduce the likelihood of injury or property damage. Make sure they know how to choose an environment where it is safe to move around with the headset on and to use the virtual boundary feature that can help them stay in that area.
Parents should help their child choose appropriate content. That includes considering the ratings and other information about apps available in the App Store, the types of movement their child might engage in, and whether their child is mature enough for the content, and how they’ve experienced other similar content. Parents should also consider whether their child is ready for mixed reality (MR) experiences, which blend the virtual and real worlds together in ways that can seem very real, particularly for children. Some MR experiences might lead to confusion between reality and virtual content or emotionally intense reactions.
Some VR users have experienced nausea, dizziness, stress, anxiety, and even fear due to the realistic nature of immersive VR experiences. For example, standing on the edge of a virtual building can elicit fear of falling, even though you may be nowhere near an actual skyscraper. Careful content selection can ensure that children have a good experience in the headset.
Although the latest models have improved, headsets can sometimes be uncomfortable, especially if worn for long periods, and eye strain is possible. It’s important to wear VR gear properly to reduce the risk of discomfort. Breaks are also important: parents should ensure their children take them while using VR and remove their headset if they feel dizzy, nauseous or uncomfortable. Breaks and time limits can be scheduled in Family Center.
Finally, there is the risk of physical injury when a headset fully covers your eyes and you’re playing a game or engaging in an activity where you are encouraged to move around or move your arms and hands. Parents should review the Meta Quest Safety Center with their children and pay attention to the health and safety warnings, including setting up virtual boundaries to “help you stay within your cleared play area,” noticing if virtual boundaries are turned off, and to be mindful of the physical environment such as stairs. Virtual objects in MR games may also obstruct the user’s view of objects in the room. Make sure your child is safe from obstructions if their play extends outside of the normal boundary or if the boundary is turned off in a particular experience. The headset’s Passthrough mode allows the user to see the real-life environment around them, which they can access by selecting Pass Through Home in the quick settings menu.
Communicating with your pre-teen about their VR use
Virtual Reality headsets like those from Meta are relatively new, and many parents may not be familiar with them. Even if you don’t initially “get” VR, keep an open mind and take the opportunity to ask your child what they like about VR, how they use it, and their favorite apps. Allow them to share their excitement and be the “teacher” in helping you understand this emerging technology. If you have older children – perhaps teens – consider getting their advice and having them mentor their younger siblings. You can also cast your child’s experience in VR to your phone or TV to supervise in real time. Finally, you should also try the headset out yourself to understand what your child is experiencing.
Aging out of a parent-managed account
It won’t be long before your pre-teen becomes a teen, and when they reach their 13th birthday (except in some jurisdictions that require a different age), your child will “age up” to start managing their Meta account on their own.
Both you and your child will receive in-app and email notices about a month before your pre-teen turns 13 (or the applicable age in your jurisdiction) to explain what is or is not changing, and to encourage you to have a discussion about this shift. And both you and your newly minted teen will have access to Help Center content and resources. We also encourage you to access ConnectSafely guides and other materials for parents of teens, which you can find at ConnectSafely.org.
Upon aging up, your teen will, by default, have a supervised account that gives parents visibility into their teen’s usage, including time spent in VR and who they are following or followed by in VR, albeit with fewer controls than a pre-teen managed account. Note that unlike children aged 10-12, teens can opt out of parental supervision. ConnectSafely has a Parent’s Guide to Meta Virtual Reality Parental Supervision Tools and Parent and Guardian Guide to Meta Horizon Worlds. There is also a Parent’s Guide to Meta Quest Pro, with information that also applies to other Quest headsets.
Both parents and kids need to understand how families use parental supervision and management tools like the ones from Meta, ideally, evolve over time. What’s appropriate for an 11-year-old may not be necessary by age 13 or 16. As children mature, it’s common for parents to give them more autonomy, with the goal of helping them ensure their safety, privacy, and security in any environment.
Just as children turn into teens before you know it, teens turn into adults, and our goal — as parents — should be to empower them with the skills to make good decisions their entire lives. Right now, we’re talking about the use of a VR headset, but the same skills of time management, self-control, and making sound judgments about who they hang out with, how they respond to peer pressure, and how they approach safety can apply to all aspects of their life for their entire life.
Parents as advisors and role models
When it comes to safety, privacy, security and civility, it’s not just what we tell our children. It’s how they observe us as role models. Putting time limits on your child’s use of their VR headset is appropriate, but you also need to model that behavior in how you manage your own time and devices. If they see you using your phone during dinner or spending excessive time on your computer (even for work), watching TV, or using your phone, they’re getting a message that may be much stronger than what you tell them with your words.
Goals and limits of parental management tools
Meta’s VR parental supervision tools for children under 13 are designed to help you guide your pre-teens in their exploration of the vast virtual worlds this new technology offers. The goal is not to “control” your pre-teen’s use of the technology or necessarily get a full report on everything they do but to strike a balance by providing parents a window into the apps their pre-teens use and the amount of time they spend in VR.
Closing thoughts for parents
Parent-managed accounts and supervision tools are helpful, but they’re no substitute for parental involvement, including having regular conversations with your kids. They don’t have to be long and formal—just talks you have, perhaps in the car or over dinner. And be sure they indeed are conversations—not lectures or inquisitions.
This isn’t just about your child’s use of technology but about how they learn to conduct themselves now and as they mature. Meta’s headsets may be about virtual reality—but learning to manage risk, treat people nicely, and protect yourself are real-world skills.
Meta provides financial support to ConnectSafely. ConnectSafely is solely responsible for the content of this guide.