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Advice

Read this before using a teen dating site

It's 2016, which means there are endless ways to meet new people. You can find a new friend at school, stumble upon a future beau at a concert, click with one of your soccer teammates or meet someone digitally. The latter may not be the safest option, though. 

Although you might think that dating sites and apps are solely for adults, there are many platforms that enable younger teens to meet new people and exchange personal information with strangers. Some of the most common examples include MyLOL, Crush Zone, Chat Hour and Vkool. These websites are specifically designed for people under 18. But the thing is, how do you ensure that every member is *really* a teen just like you? This is where it starts getting unsafe, and why we would recommend not using these sites at all.

But if you are thinking of dating digitally, here's what to keep in mind.

Don’t befriend people you don’t know. Whether it's an Instagram request from someone you don't know or someone sketchy is trying to hit you up you on Facebook, *never* add someone online that you don’t know in real life. This is often where all the problems start.

Instead, reconnect with an old friend. Haven’t talked to a your pal from camp in a while? Maybe that crush who moved away has been on your mind lately. Send them a message and get the convo going.

Think before you click. Before you press publish on a post or send a message, make sure you’re positive that this is what you want to share with the world. Be smart about what you say online because once it’s there, everyone can see it and it can never be completely erased.

Avoid posting identifying information online. The more private you are on social media, the better. That doesn't mean you can't post what you want, but never post info that will alert others of your whereabouts, your address, you phone number or any other information that would allow someone to locate you.

If you see something, say something. If anything weird happens to you while you're chatting with someone (you'll know it when you see or experience it), let your parents or someone you trust know. That way, you can prevent anything potentially dangerous or harmful before it even happens.

The internet can be scary, but it doesn't have to be. How do you stay safe online? Let us know in the comments below!

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by Yasmeena Fakhouri | 10/26/2016
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