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Published on: 13 Jul 2018 by sophia-moore
According to Alabama Living, the digital age of dating has greatly affected how teens meet, interact and engage in relationships with one another. Following are some of the most recent statistics about teens dating online
1. One in four teens date or “hook up” with someone they met online
2. Half of all teens will let someone know they’re interested in connecting with them on social media.
3. Nearly half (47%) of teens express their attraction or interest in someone by liking or commenting on that person’s social media posts.
Furthermore, among teens between the age of 13 and 17
1. 14% consider themselves to currently be in a serious relationship.
2. 5% consider themselves to be in a romantic relationship that is not serious
3. 16% are not currently dating but have had a romantic relationship in the past
All of these statistics seem to tell us that most teens are meeting and finding their new love interests online, and nearly 35% will at some point be in a romantic relationship with another person. The other 65% will still be dating but may not necessarily be in a monogamous relationship during these years.
As a parent, these numbers can be harrowing – teens subjecting themselves to online bullying and heartbreak, the possibility of contracting an STD from someone they barely know and even teen dating violence are all concerning.
Since teens are trending toward mainly flirting online and meeting people for the first time there, the first concern with these methods can be who is on the other end of that interaction. Is it really the person shown on the profile? Or is it a trafficker or sex offender looking for their next victim?
Another concern about online safety is whether your teen is safe with them. Teen dating violence is a real thing, and quite prevalent. Not to mention online bullying or other harassment that your teen could be opening themselves up to when dating online. Is the person they plan on meeting violent? Do they have your teen’s best interest in mind? These are all questions that parents should be asking and things they are protecting against during the everyday interactions their teen is having with others on social media.
How to Protect Your Teen
Although gradually increasing a teen’s freedom when on the Internet is a rite of passage, make sure your teen’s use is age-appropriate. A 13-year-old should have far less freedom with their accounts than a 17-year-old. Maintain a close eye on the apps and accounts your teen uses, and you’ll have a better idea of how they’re interacting with people.
Enable Privacy Settings
Talk to your teen about how to make sure their social media accounts can’t be found or accessed by predators, making sure they understand the importance of online safety. Walk them through settings that only allow friends, or friends of friends, to see their information, for example. Whatever you do, don’t allow the public to randomly see your teen’s information and contact them unsolicited.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Make every attempt to ensure your teen feels comfortable talking to you about things that may be bothering them or questions they have about something that just doesn’t seem right. If they get an odd message or request, they will be more likely to run it by you before they respond. Ensure you’re making a regular attempt to ask them about their online activity, and make sure those questions are specific – names of people they’re talking to, what types of things their friends are posting about, etc.
“Follow” Your Teen on Social Media
Since the research shows that teens are flirting today by interacting with posts by friends, make sure to create your own social media accounts and follow your teen. This way, you can see the types of posts they are liking, sharing and commenting on. This will also help direct your lines of questioning when you discuss their activity with them.
Know Where They Are
This may seem obvious, but teens can be very sneaky when they want to meet someone in person that they just met online. Make sure they understand the dangers of this activity and agree to possibly take them to meet someone if you approve and it is age-appropriate.
Otherwise, make sure you have some way to track what they’re doing and where they’re going, just in case they aren’t being honest with you. Tracking their vehicle is possible with newer vehicles and parent controls on phones, so you have a better idea of whether they’re going where they tell you they are.
Keeping these tips in mind when considering your teen’s online safety will help to avoid interactions with unwanted people, enable you to better grasp what they’re doing on a daily basis and even help prepare them for adulthood by using technology more intelligently.