The term “online predator” often conjures up the image of a creepy older man at a computer screen waiting to lure an unsuspecting child.The media reinforces this depiction, which is problematic because it does not fit with the kinds of risky relationships that are more common for kids and teens or necessarily follow Internet safety statistics.A majority of teens with dating experience (76%, or 26% of all teens) say they have only dated people they met via in-person methods. One-in-five (20%) of all teens have used their social networks to find new partners by following or friending someone because a friend suggested they might want to date them.Still, a quarter of teen daters (24%, or 8% of all teens) have dated or hooked up with someone they first met online. Older teens are more likely to do this than younger ones; 23% of 15- to 17-year-olds have followed someone at a friend’s behest for dating purposes, while 15% of 13- and 14-year-olds have done so.Developing relationships, especially the romantic kind, are a fundamental part of growing up.
Some 31% of teens who have met a partner or partners online, indicate that they have been involved in a romantic relationship with someone online they never met face to face, while 69% of teens who have met a romantic partner online say they have met them in person. One high school girl describes falling down the rabbit hole of a crush’s profile.
Did you know that about half of sexually active teens and young adults will get an STD before their 25th birthday – and many of them will have no idea?
If you’re having any kind of sex, you need to think about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Facebook was mentioned 46 times in the open-ended responses to this question, while the second-most popular (Instagram) was cited only eight times. I still talk to her, but we’re not together.” And for some teens, online relationships, like offline ones, can be uncomfortable and devolve into creepy situations. Older teens ages 15 to 17 are more likely than younger teens to search for information online about current or prospective romantic partners, with 35% of older teens searching, while 16% of younger teens do so.
Twitter, Kik and online gaming also were mentioned in a small number of responses, as were a range of other social media, video and chat sites (Hot or Not, IMVU, My Space, Omegle, Meet Me and Snap Chat each were mentioned once in these responses). One high school girl related the experience of one of her friends: High School Girl: “She met this guy through Facebook and … But he said he lived in Florida and then last weekend, she got a ring in the mail from him. Similarly, older teens are more likely than younger ones to search for information online about a past romantic partner – while 17% of 15- to 17-year-olds have searched for information about someone they dated or hooked up with in the past, just 7% of all 13- to 14-year-olds have done so.