Newsweek covers Second Life, a virtual 3-D world where almost anything goes for the over 8 million people who roam there. And although Newsweek overall gives the concept of a computer-based society a positive spin, it does point out some of the negatives, such as the incredibly controversial criminal investigation in Germany against people who have virtual sex with a child avatar (note: the person behind the avatar was a legal adult).
There are stories of people who have become IRL millionaires through selling items such as clothing and land in Second Life. There are case studies of how businesses are using Second Life to enhance customer service. But the most startling statistic to me? “By 2011, four of every five people who use the Internet will actively participate in Second Life or some similar medium.”
We need to treat this prediction as truth of the inevitable and start teaching virtual etiquette and develop general relationship education to prepare for this phenomenon.