The decided lack of accountability for one's virtual self is something that gets talked about a lot...when something happens that sparks the discussion. For example, when teens commit suicide because of cyber bullying (see https://nobullying.com/six-unforgettable-cyber-bullying-cases/ for some examples). In those moments, communities come together and parents speak out about how open the internet is for situations like these to continue. Sometimes laws are passed or people are charged. And then it all goes away again until the next time something happens.
At the end of the day, we live in a very "sound-bite" or "click-bite" culture that uses the Internet to cycle from one story to the next without time for deep thought or at least consideration. In her article, "Mirror Images," Suzanne de Castell points out that "if this were a real frontier, would anyone send his or her children into it without taking the time to build a habitable, humane world?" (deCastell, 2015, p. 219). When these tragedies happen, there is a lot of talk about making things better and how to combat cyber-bullying, but there is no talk about changing the "virtual world" itself. deCastell points out, I think rightly, that "there is no money to be made by doing it [creating a humane and habitable cyberspace]" (deCastell, 2015, p. 220).
So where does that leave educators? We are heavily encouraged, and I would argue invested, in utilizing virtual tools in the today's classroom. We are given access to wi-fi and iPads/tablets/laptops/projectors/Apple TV to push more and more technology into our lessons and activities. I myself have my students using the online journal "SeeSaw" to post their work in class, mostly so parents can see what is happening at school. How are we going to make a safer, "habitable" virtual world if no one is invested in doing so? Educators are required to teach about cyber-bullying and proper online conduct and other specific topics to help students navigate the online world, but at the end of the day nothing is really going to change unless a large demand is made that cannot be ignored. deCastell puts forth a call for action, in my opinion, and gives us a lot of food for thought as we move forward in these two, increasingly undivided, worlds.
de Castell, S. (2015). Mirror Images: Avatar Aesthetics and Self-Representation in Digital Games. In M. Ratto, & M. Boler (Eds.), DIY Citizenship (pp. 213-222). Cambridge: The MIT Press.