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More polite in virtual worlds?

CNET asks that question, and I think it’s an interesting one – especially given a growing public discussion about cyberbullying and why some people are so nasty on the Web (see my earlier post on this). The question is: Are people more polite in online worlds and games with avatars than in, say, social-networking sites? And is it because there are avatars – visual representations of ourselves – instead of just text and the anonymity associated with it? Maybe virtual worlds (like Teen Second Life, Whyville.net, and There.com) are logical “places” to teach cybercitizenship and cyberethics, then. Parents, educators, and online-safety advocates concerned about social behavior online and cyberbullying might consider putting heads together with operators of tween and teen spaces online to consider making this a component of virtual worlds for youth. See also ZDNET’s “When cyberbullying hits teens.”

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