I have two best friends, and they're the greatest people in the world. Unfortunately, they're getting mixed up with the Internet creeper world.
Friend #1 has had THREE Internet "boyfriends," all of whom were 16+ (she's 12), live across the country, or even across the world. I got mad and frustrated with her the first time, and she said she didn't want to be friends if I couldn't "accept her other friends."
Friend #2 has had two Internet BFs. Once again, both of which were older than 16.
They have all exchanged e-mail and Facebook information, and even photos and cellular device numbers on a few occasions.
Right now, I just don't understand WHY they would do this to themselves. It's dangerous and creepy, and it really worries me. I've tried to tell them, I've even told my parents, but they don't listen. Help, please.
Hey girl! Good for you for recognizing risky behavior and staying away from it. It sounds like your friends could be setting themselves up for some trouble in the future if they don’t stop soon.
Try to understand why
First of all, the reason your friends are seeking out attention from older guys is probably because they are a wee bit insecure. A lot of people find it easier to feel confident when they’re behind a computer screen. Try reminding your friends all the things you like about them. Let them know how great they are to be around, and shouldn’t need the attention of a guy to make them feel good.
Put it in perspective
Make sure your friends know that sharing their personal information with strangers is not something to take lightly. Tell them that even though they think they know these guys, they really could have no idea about what kind of people they are. How do they really know these people are who they actually say they are? Also, giving private info via web, like pictures and addresses could turn out embarrassing or dangerous if the guy has bad intentions.
Weigh your options
Talking to your friends and telling them how you feel is the first step. If you still feel uncomfortable and are really worried about their safety, you could always try talking to their parents instead of yours. However, if you don’t seriously doubt their safety, but are just weirded out by their actions, try distancing yourself from them for a while so they know just how seriously you feel about the situation.
Get them away from cyberspace
The more time they spend at home solo will only encourage your friends to sit for hours behind the screen. Try inviting your girls out on group dates with your classmates and other friends. The more they socialize and meet boys outside of cyberspace, they’ll soon realize how much more healthy and fun real-life dating can be.
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POSTED ON 4/14/2010 5:22:00 PM