Breaking News: Teen Girls Meeting Online “Friends” Offline
I looked at the study a bit more carefully and it appeared that up to 50% of these teen girls had a history of abuse thus making them more vulnerable than other teen girls. Although this factor didn’t make the information easier to digest it did help explain the results a bit more. The study was conducted by researchers in Cincinnati who recruited a group of 130 teenage girls ages 14-17. Half of these girls had a history of being neglected or being physically or sexually abused.
The other 50% of the teen girls reported no history of similar maltreatment. The researchers found that the girls with the history of maltreatment had more risque social media profiles and were more likely to engage in risky behaviors both online and offline. Risky online behavior was strongly connected to then meeting Internet “friends” offline. One in ten of the girls who met their online “friends” offline described experiencing a “creepy” interaction that ranged from sexual advances to sexual assault. Creepy, indeed.
The lead author of this study, Jennie Noll, from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Center suggested that high-quality teen-parent relationships with good and open communication could mitigate the risk that their teens would meet online “friends” in real life.
The takeaway message is that parents should not only monitor their teenage daughters’ online behavior but also their whereabouts.