It's hard to miss those Bay Area billboards claiming that 1 in 5 children has been sexually solicited online, although only a tiny fraction of those involve aggressive solicitations from someone believed to be over age 25.What experts fear is that parents remain relatively unaware of the much more ordinary hazards for their children in cyberspace: Online bullying, with kids taking harassment from the playground to an exponentially wider audience.
Nick Yee,, a game player who also researches games and defends the benefits of online games.
Event in Mountain View, Ca on 2/11/06 Photo by : Michael Macor/ San Francisco Chronicle Mandatory credit for Photographer and San Francisco Chronicle/ - Magazines Out lesshaddock12005_Yee immersed in the game World of Warcrtaft.
A century ago, they panicked that a new pool table would trigger truancy, tobacco use and trouble in River City.
Defenders of cyberspace -- including its frequent young inhabitants -- say it encourages creativity and personal expression, and helps kids with similar interests connect across the globe, in a forum where race, accent and other physical attributes are irrelevant. But adults and kids alike should be aware of potential pitfalls.
"It was awful -- enough to make you feel physically ill just looking at it," said Principal Andrew Ishibashi.
"And of course word of it spread all around the school." Investigators have yet to pinpoint the perpetrator.
Now it may feel more like a minefield -- seductive on the surface, but seeded with subterranean hazards.
Few families have escaped the warning sirens about sexual predators stalking children via the computer.
But cyberbullying follows you wherever you go -- to your new school, to your grandmother's house." Whereas brawn is a prerequisite for schoolyard bullies, cyberbullies can come in all shapes and sizes.
Adolescents -- particularly girls -- have long exploited the rumor mill to humiliate a social outcast or a rival for a boy's attention. There are the online polls inviting participants to post salacious or critical assessments of their classmates -- as in "Who's the sluttiest girl at school ?
Instead these predators are in the pursuit of profit, and they often strike a bonanza among younger computer users who know how to access their parents' credit card or Pay Pal accounts, but not how to spot a scam.