I was a reluctant digital immigrant in my late twenties. Yet, I met my significant other online (this was the pre-social networking era) and the rest, as the cliché goes, was chemistry, much to my own surprise. My digital native teenage child finds nothing surprising about this. “How else will you know people?” she asks. “How about the real world”?, I want to answer in rhetoric, but I really can’t because as with everything in her life, relationships and dating have strong digital footprints in them. Besides, I feel like a hypocrite, warning her about the dangers of digital dating when I have walked the path myself, in as early as the pre-social networking era. — Lakshmi, a Mobicip researcher and mother of a teen.
- Pew Research states that almost one-in-four (24%) teens have dated or hooked up with someone they initially encountered online.
- Half of all teens (50%) have communicated their romantic interest through Facebook or other social media sites.
- 47% teens have expressed their attraction by liking, commenting or otherwise interacting with a person on social media.
- Dating it seems, has been simplified to text messaging, rather than even talking on the phone - 72% of teens text their romantic partners every day.
- Most adolescents turn to social media for friendships. Social networking sites do not screen users and it becomes very easy to use it for inappropriate contacts.
- Another con with online dating is that what you see may not be what you get.
- Online dating can blur the boundary between presenting the best image, and faking.
- The third annual survey Cox and NCMEC show that nearly one in 10 teens (8%) has posted his or her cell phone number online.
- 69% of teens reportedly receive online messages from strangers and they do not confide to their parents or caretakers about it.
Navigating the murky and often tremulous waters of dating is challenging in real life, it is more so in the digital age. The playing field is not very clear because of the variations in personalities, circumstances and needs of teens. While it is impossible to take the teen out of digital world, it is the responsibility of the adult to render her presence and relationships she seeks online, safe.
While most of these rules are fairly simple to enforce, as a parent I have trouble in convincing the kid that the real world is infinitely more interesting and healthy than the online world, and a balance is essential. Perhaps once I figure out a successful strategy to let my child understand that, I would share it with the world. But until then, I shall continue, like most parents of a digital teen, to grope at straws to keep my teenager safe in the online world. — Laskhmi, a Mobicip researcher and mother of a teen.
Keep in touch with the latest on parenting, technology and education. Subscribe to the Mobicip newsletter.
Learn more at www.mobicip.com.