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So is this online hook up trend something that we, as parents, should be worried about?
According to Jocelyn Brewer, a Psychologist who works mainly with adolescents, it’s not so much that parents should be worried, but more that they just need to be very aware.“It’s definitely the case that even for teens using social media sites who are not specifically looking to hook up, such advances and suggestions happen.
“Let’s be honest, once you move away from anything like Facebook or Twitter, to sites where there is limited security settings, no processes in place to report stuff, and problems are not followed up, you are getting into dangerous territory.”“Parents need to know that this stuff is out there and talk to their child,” advises Mc Lean. It’s the 21st century and technology is here to stay, so don’t think it’s something that’s part of your child’s world that you don’t need to understand.” Mc Lean says that she has met many parents who have expressed regrets at what they have allowed their children to do online, because they didn’t understand the risks and, as a result of that, it’s come back to bite them.“You need to understand what you are trying to protect your kids from, and you need to have rules and consequences, concludes Mc Lean.
The very nature of social media after all is that it encourages communication and connection, which may well lead to IRL (in real life) meet ups.
Obviously the level of this communication and connection is probably not the quality ones most parents would prefer.”Brewer highlights that the key for parents is to maintain awareness around everything that their child is doing online and believes that whilst this isn’t necessarily a trend that is hugely popular at the present time, it could well be something that we see increase in the future as children get more sexualised and more emphasis is put on sex and sex acts as a ‘currency’ to prove a child’s worth and skill.
Rachel Hynes, mum to a teenager and publisher of the website for parents of teens The Kids are All Right, believes that at the present time social networking sites remain the way in which most teenagers are meeting people and describes these connections, rather aptly, as the equivalent of modern day pen friends.
Whilst Rachel has no data on how often teens who meet online are actually meeting up in ‘real life’, she is certain that it happens, particularly in cases where people live within the same area and have access to public transport and the excuse of going to an event where they can meet.