Online Dating For Young People — Risks, Challenges, And How To Overcome Them
Online dating is easy and convenient. Who wouldn’t want to try it out? Young people think along the same lines as they sign up on dating websites. However, they’re rarely aware of the risks and challenges that come with it. Let’s look at some of them here.
Risk 1: Online grooming
Online grooming refers to older people who pretend to befriend children in order to coerce them into sexual activities later. They mostly target impressionable teenagers and make them feel like they are in a genuine relationship with them. After developing trust, such predators push young people into sexual activities by harassing and blackmailing them into sending their nudes.
Risk 2: Harassment
The thing about online spaces is that everyone can approach you in one way or another. Some send you unsolicited messages and explicit pictures. It can happen across all social media platforms, including dating websites.
Risk 3: Privacy issues
Most young people are naive and easily give out private information to strangers on the internet. It puts them in a vulnerable position.
Risk 4: Dependence on external validation
Young people tend to crave the approval of older and “mature” people on dating websites. And before you know it, they start saying and doing inappropriate things that are not in their best interest.
Risk 5: Everything is not what it seems
People can pretend to be anyone on dating websites, and it’s hard to filter real profiles from fake ones. Some lie about their age and gender; others lie about their professional and personal life. You may have no idea who you’re dating until you actually meet them. Sometimes, not even then.
How To Overcome The Risks That Come With Online Dating
There is nothing to be embarrassed about if you have experienced one or more of these dangers. Even the best of us get scammed on dating websites, which is why I’m here to help you be cautious while dating someone online.
1. Understand that most people online actively seek out naive people. They use the kindness of your heart against you. Do not be afraid of being assertive and asking them to prove their identity. Look through their social media profiles. If they are mostly empty with only a few posts and no family members added, it is a red flag.
2. Counsel yourself. So you do not draw validation from others. You are valuable, and you know what you are doing with your life. You do not have to prove yourself to anyone online. If you want some advice, take it from your parents. If that is not an option, do your research on Google; avoid taking the word of strangers.
3. Trust your instincts, report people and dating profiles that appear suspicious to you.
4. If you feel stuck, unable to see through the motives of a person online, talk about it with your friend. They will help you get some perspective.
5. Keep your personal information, such as your home and school address, private.