Study: Young gamers increasingly targeted by extremist groups

Posted: Updated:
LONG ISLAND -

Online gamers are becoming targets of harassment by extremists, according to a study by the Anti-Defamation League.

Eric Donaldson of Hewlett has been an avid online gamer since he was a child, but says friendly competition turned into harassment about eight years ago.

"Every swear word you can imagine," Donaldson says. "Every derogatory term, every racist remark, homophobic remark."

The study found that 65% of online gamers have experienced harassment while playing online games. Those incidents included physical threats, stalking and sustained harassment.

The survey also found that many online gamers were exposed to extremist groups, such as white supremacists and ISIS, looking to normalize hate and recruit new members.

Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, an addiction expert who studied the impact of screen technology on children, says those gamers usually prey on younger people.

"They look for young, isolated, fragile young teens that are looking for meaning and purpose in their lives," Kardaras says. "And so they're the low-lying fruit for a lot of different radical groups.

The study comes while major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are dealing with the spread of hate speech and disinformation.

Experts say it's difficult for some children to recognize harassment and indoctrination online. They advise parents to monitor their childrens' online use and to be aware of any changes in behavior.

  • SlideshowsGalleriesMore>>

  • Dog Day Fridays for Oct. 18

    Dog Day Fridays for Oct. 18

    Friday, October 18 2019 10:16 AM EDT2019-10-18 14:16:58 GMT
    Douglas is a 5-year-old, male, neutered Cattle dog mix rescued through the Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand from the streets of Thailand. These dogs are often rounded up and sold to the dog meat trade in China. He is good with dogs and older children.Douglas is a 5-year-old, male, neutered Cattle dog mix rescued through the Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand from the streets of Thailand. These dogs are often rounded up and sold to the dog meat trade in China. He is good with dogs and older children.
    Douglas is a 5-year-old, male, neutered Cattle dog mix rescued through the Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand from the streets of Thailand. These dogs are often rounded up and sold to the dog meat trade in China. He is good with dogs and older children.Douglas is a 5-year-old, male, neutered Cattle dog mix rescued through the Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand from the streets of Thailand. These dogs are often rounded up and sold to the dog meat trade in China. He is good with dogs and older children.
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Almost Home Animal Rescue & Adoption. The shelter is located at 646 Medford Ave. in Patchogue. Their phone number is (631) 627-3665.
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Almost Home Animal Rescue & Adoption. The shelter is located at 646 Medford Ave. in Patchogue. Their phone number is (631) 627-3665.
  • Your Oct. 16 storm photos

    Your Oct. 16 storm photos

    Storm photos Oct. 17Storm photos Oct. 17
    Storm photos Oct. 17Storm photos Oct. 17
    Heavy right and high winds swept through the tri-state area due to a large coast storm on the night of Oct. 16. Here are your photos from the storm.
    Heavy right and high winds swept through the tri-state area due to a large coast storm on the night of Oct. 16. Here are your photos from the storm.
  • Your Long Island Fall Fun Photos

    Your Long Island Fall Fun Photos

    Monday, October 7 2019 12:12 PM EDT2019-10-07 16:12:23 GMT
    Fall FunFall Fun
    Fall FunFall Fun
    Are you and your family doing fun things this fall? Whether you're out apple or pumpkin picking, at a farm or corn maze or just hanging around in your home or yard, News 12 Long Island wants to see your Fall Fun pics!
    Are you and your family doing fun things this fall? Whether you're out apple or pumpkin picking, at a farm or corn maze or just hanging around in your home or yard, News 12 Long Island wants to see your Fall Fun pics!
sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."