Thursday, October 31, 2013

Teen Online Dating? Should this even be happening?

Teens are going online to meet potential boyfriends and girlfriends. Yes, you read that correctly, and you may be wondering what the world has come to. What about the traditional ways of meeting people, in school or through hobbies that you share? Or, are these the old-school ways from generations before us?

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Online dating has been around since the beginning of the Internet in the 1990’s. It has only been in the past few years that online dating has become popular in the adult world, and teens (and even tweens) are following by example! Before we blame the teenagers for being hormonal and wanting attention, let’s go back to their role models. In the past five years increasing numbers of adults are experimenting with online dating. One in ten Americans have either used a dating website or a mobile dating app (PEW Internet & American Life Project). These adults are parents, role models, and leaders in teenage lives, thus creating examples for teens to follow. Teens like to feel they fit in. In order to do this, they will change or adapt to the environments around them. Some teens are going to online meeting websites because they feel more connected with their peers in the online world. Websites like Mylol.com have chat rooms where people choose to talk with people that share similar interests. These websites do not necessarily promote meeting in person but they usually ask for your location so they can connect you with like-minded teenagers in the area.

The scary fact about these sites is that you have no idea who you are talking to! It is easy for people to lie about their age, and many other details about themselves. There are cases like the Manti Te’o stories, where the college football player (Manti Te’o), had a relationship with a supposed girl for over a year. They never saw each other in person, but had an online relationship. After his girlfriend supposedly died from leukemia, it was found out that the whole relationship was a hoax. These types of stories are too real, and online it is easy to lie about details in your life. Teenagers do not think that people could be deceiving them online at any time. Mylol.com even suggests that you be yourself because “Honestly, you'll get way more friends just for being yourself.” These websites do not verify a person’s background or personal details. It is easy enough to upload a picture from Google Images of someone else that looks completely different. Mylol.com reports that they monitor every photo uploaded. This seems like quite the task since they have over 300,000 members to the website worldwide. The photos and conversations on this website are also supposedly monitored for sexually explicit content and inappropriate language.

One of the big issues with teens on these online meeting sites is the sexual content of the conversations, messages, and pictures. In Teen Dating Websites: Really, Internet?! from Raising America, the girl that created a membership to one of these types of sites got a message asking for nudes. Many of the girls on these websites are asked for pictures from people sometimes twice their age. This is illegal. Possessing naked pictures of anyone not of legal age can be classified as child pornography, even if the other person sent it willingly. On Mylol.com in the terms and conditions it states that you are not allowed to post or send messages or pictures containing sexual content. The website says that making sexual innuendos or propositions “will get your account deleted and reported to your local police. Seriously don't do it.” They do not however, report the number of people who have had their accounts deleted because of inappropriate behavior.

Online dating may appear to be an interesting place to meet new people that have similar interests as you but it can also be very dangerous. There are many people out there that could be lying to you and you would never know! There are also many circumstances that could get you in legal trouble. Are these risks worth it to try and find someone online that can relate to you? Chances are, there is someone that has similar hobbies and feelings as you do that you have not met yet. I would suggest staying away from online dating/meeting until you are older because of the safety risks, plus you have your whole life ahead of you to meet the person of your dreams.

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Conclusion:

Thank you all for your constructive comments and feedback. I enjoyed listening to all of your points of view on Teen Online Dating / Meeting. It would be interesting to see the number of people that start relationships on websites like Instagram and Facebook. I still believe that teenagers should not be looking for love on the Internet yet because of the safety risks and the safety of their personal information. Plus, teenagers still have the majority of their life to live, so I do not think they need to worry about meeting their soul mate yet. I also think it would have been interesting if I had done more research on other websites that are for teen dating to see what their privacy and safety policies are. Your comments helped me get a better perspective of people's opinions on online dating. So far no one has encouraged it. Many people think that adult online dating is all right. When do we become old enough to start online dating. Personally I think it is a choice that you must recognize the risks you could be subjecting yourself to by trying online dating, and you should be mature enough to try online dating. Since there is no such thing as a "maturity test", I think you must evaluate your own behavior and actions and see if you are fit to try online dating or not. I would like to thank my teacher for instructing us and teaching us about the digital world. I learned a lot about the digital world and how I effect it. I enjoyed learning how to blog, a different type of writing from a typical essay for school, and I also feel like I learned about my own personal digital footprint and how it can effect my future also. 

10 comments:

  1. I completely agree that dating websites should be reserved for more adult client. Dating websites are okay for adults to use for sure, it helps them reach out and find a person that they will want to be with, someone who fits their personality and they know they will be happy with. Who are we to tell fully grown adults that dating websites are not a real way to find love? But for teenagers, dating websites can, and will become a breeding ground for kidnappers, and child molesters. Online, we won't know who we are talking to, and we will never know for sure unless we meet face to face, which could be dangerous. We should stick to finding love the good-old fashion way, and not venture into the unknown world of online dating until we are ready.

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    Replies
    1. trainkid123,

      Thank you for your comment. It is interesting to hear your point of view on this topic. Why do you think that teenagers go online to meet people? You said in your comment that we should "stick to finding love the good-old fashion way, and not venture into the unknown world of online dating until we are ready". At what age do you think we are ready? And since we all mature at different rates how do we differ from person to person of when they are ready to be able to start online dating if they would like?

      Thank you again for you comment.

      Jesse

      Delete
    2. Hi Jesse,

      Sorry for my late response, school has been getting very full of things to do! I think that teens go online, honestly, because they are just trying to fill their lives with drama, or trying to do something new. I think that you are right when you say that we all mature differently, however kids are still kids. Most teenagers don't know how to use that tool. Maybe thats a large assumption, but I just feel like teenagers are not ready to use the internet as a way of dating.

      Delete
  2. Hi Jesse!
    Wow I really enjoyed reading this blog, you really made your point clear and had great facts to drive the message. You mention a lot of chat room sites and dating websites for teens, however, do you think that websites like Facebook or Instagram are potential websites to find online romance? Chat rooms are clearly a problem, but I would think that more popularized websites like Facebook are practically dating websites in disguise! You can find nearly anyone by searching a name, and your profile is often times available to friends-of-friends, and as a Facebook user I often find myself accepting friend requests with people I don't even know! Do you think that websites like that could be a problem too? Maybe the majority of teens who find online romance aren't even trying to, they just happen to have a Facebook or an Instagram and a message from a friend-of-a-friend turns into something more.. Overall, I really liked this blog!!
    -Thing4

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    Replies
    1. Hi Thing4,

      Thank you for commenting on my blog post. I completely agree with you, you can find dating websites where you least expect them. A teen who sets up a Facebook profile can easily run into an online relationship without intending to. That is why it is important for parents to be more involved in their children's online lives. Websites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are an open ground for youth to meet people they don't even know; like you said, a friend request from a friend-of-a-friend could turn into something much more.

      Thank you again for you commenting on my blog. I am happy to have heard what you think.
      -Jessiny C Bessiny

      Delete
  3. I really like this blog. There are so many good points, and I agree with most everything you say. I do think that if they say that they will delete your account and report you to the local police, they should really follow through on that. You did mention that it says they monitor the pictures, but you sound doubtful. How do you know for sure that they are not monitoring? In a way, I think that online dating could be a great thing, but for adults. As an adult, you may not have a lot of time for meeting people while working. But as a teenager, you may participate in sports, you go to school, and there are just tons of places that you can meet someone. I really love that you talked about how you do not really know whom you are talking to. You could be a teenager talking to a forty year old pedophile for all you know. That could get vary dangerous. All in all, I think this was a great blog.

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  4. In your blog you seem to focus on Mylol.com without providing many other examples. I was wondeing how many dating sites like Mylol there are with similar numbers? If there are many sites such as Mylol than the number of 300,000 could be more around 300 million. This would be helpful in arguing that too many people are using dating websites. Also in your blog you state all negatives without providing any counter-examples. If websites like Mylol really do have so much harassment then why are they so popular? Also why is it so bad to look for other ways to meet new people? Overall I enjoyed reading your blog and it opened my eyes on the problems with teen digital dating. I hope you could add something about what comes out of having bad relationships online and that you continue with your blog.

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  5. Hi Jessie. I really enjoyed reading your blog. It was very interesting how online dating is not good. How can you prevent people from online dating? In my opinion, I think it is hard to prevent people from dating online, so schools should educate the teenagers not to do online dating, how that can be dangerous and scary. Thank you for posting this blog, it gives something for me to think about.

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    Replies
    1. Lovely Park! Thank you for your constructive comment! I agree with you that it would be very difficult to prevent teenagers from online dating because the majority of the time we are on the internet we are not being monitored by parents. I believe that if we were going to try and prevent teenagers from online dating/meeting then we should try to get parents to involve themselves more in their teenager's online life. I also think that we should teach kids in school the safety risks you could be making by sharing personal information online in settings like online dating websites.

      Again, thank you for your comment.

      Jesse

      Delete
  6. It's scary to think that my classmates are doing things like that. I agree that teens need to meet people in person before ever doing any rash.

    ReplyDelete

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