But as Valentine’s Day gets closer, the FBI wants to warn you that criminals use these sites, too, looking to turn the lonely and vulnerable into fast money through a variety of scams..
These criminals—who also troll social media sites and chat rooms in search of romantic victims—usually claim to be Americans traveling or working abroad. While their most common targets are women over 40 who are divorced, widowed, and/or disabled, but every age group and demographic is at risk. You’re contacted online by someone who appears interested in you.
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Your seventh-grade son wants to join a social network to swap skateboarding tips with his pals.
"These technologies are not going away," says Boyd, whose book, It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, cites her 10 years of fieldwork documenting teens on Internet usage. We need young people to learn to navigate these environments responsibly.
We do our youth a disservice when we simply exclude them from these dynamics and then expect them to figure it all out when they're off in college." Stranger danger is a leading concern among parents, Boyd says.
"The key is to create digital training wheels when kids are younger and to offer more freedom in the teenage years, so when they leave home they make responsible decisions." Acknowledge the pluses. "Many youth who have grown up with technology use that distance as young professionals to navigate difficult discussions with bosses, or otherwise navigate conflict in new ways." Open up worlds for your child.
"Most acts of sexual violence against children occur in their own homes by people whom those children trust." Boyd's research reveals that the majority of kids who partake in risky behaviors online -- interacting with strangers in private chat rooms, offering details about themselves on random sites, even arranging to meet unfamiliar people face-to-face -- are often the same children who are most at-risk offline, too."Meeting someone through one of these websites does not present any greater risk than meeting someone in a bar or any other setting.Millions of Americans visit online dating websites every year hoping to find a companion or even a soulmate.Change may be coming to the rapidly growing dating industry as concern mounts about the privacy and safety of all online and mobile users. Al Franken, D-Minn., introduced legislation Thursday requiring companies to get customers' permission before collecting location data off their mobile devices and sharing it with others.It's a move that would greatly affect dating websites and apps.Your daughter in high school doesn't hang out at the mall with her girlfriends like you once did -- she's too busy posting selfies with them on Instagram. Is it a good idea to instill your fears in your kids about the dangers of sexual predators on the Internet, and the possibility of permanently writing their adolescent wrongs, searchable forever, online?And what about the perils of sexting -- texting with sexual overtones and often imagery?But the facts regarding Internet predators simply don't jibe with the level of alarm."A central challenge in addressing the sexual victimization of children is …These include companies checking subscribers against national sex offender registries and providing a rapid abuse reporting system for members.However, cyberdating expert Julie Spira of Los Angeles says such reports are sometimes little more than revenge."When people get reported, sometimes it's because they got jilted," she says.