04. 15. 2009
Teenagers tend to socialize online with those they already know, reveals study
We hear a lot about teenagers being bullied or stalked or induced into anorexia via their use of social networking sites but how representative are the big news stories that grab the headlines and instill fear into the heart of every parent?
Not that representative at all, actually, according to a study undertaken in 2008 and reported in the last week in USA Today.
A team of California researchers asked 251 teenagers about who they communicate with online (and their motives for that communication) and found that teens were mostly using the Internet to catch up with and stay close to existing friends, rather than to meet new ones.
David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire-Durham, confirmed that in his experience, most young people don't seek out interaction with strangers:
"If you talk to young people about why they have social networking sites, it's so they can keep up with friends and have friends keep up with them," he said. And his center recently released a study that found no evidence online predators were stalking or abducting victims based on information posted on social networking sites.
The best advice for parents? Be aware of who your child is chatting to - but remember there's little reason to become paranoid.