Dating is always awkward for teenagers, but it is especially awkward for those youngsters who seek others to date over the Internet. Safety is, and should be, every teen’s number-one concern.
The primary reason for this is that one doesn’t really know with whom one is interacting. Despite words and photos, these indicators do not guarantee the identity of the other person. Caution is always prudent. In addition to that, teens meeting one another for the first time should go in groups, or with a friend so they are not alone. A parent’s presence is acceptable, too, but only if the teen wishes it. The point is for teens who are meeting to not put themselves in a helpless position.
If the first “date,” or initial meeting works out, then all subsequent dates can be one-on-one. The important thing is that both teens involved feel comfortable with one another.
Another reason for safety is an old one, but it can never be stressed too often: Watch out for predators! Most predators seek out ‘tweens’ (10-12) or younger teens (13-14), but slightly older teens (15-16) should still be wary. These adults—usually men, but sometimes women—are persistent and will do anything to get close to the youngsters. For this reason, one should never divulge personal or contact information with someone that one doesn’t know well.
A third safety tip: Let parents know, not that emails should necessarily be shared. Teens have a right to their privacy, especially when it comes to dating, but if parents know that their teen is engaged in online dating, perhaps they can offer support and additional suggestions for their teen to play it safe at all times. One shouldn’t be afraid to confide in a parent, especially where one’s safety is concerned.
In the end, teens should always be smart and careful. It could literally mean the difference between life and death.