The internet and social networks are influencing teenagers’ relationships and social interactions, with one-third of teenagers saying they seek love on Facebook, an online teen dating survey from security firm McAfee suggests.
The survey results also reveal that 95pc of teenagers ages 13-17 are online and 80pc of them use social media.
Thirty-four per cent of girls and 16pc of boys are exposed to more explicit and unwanted attention, and three-quarters of them don’t inform their parents when online communications reach uncomfortable levels (68pc of girls and 19pc of boys).
Twenty-nine per cent of girls say they have experienced interactions on the internet with members of the opposite sex that made them feel pressured, uncomfortable or threatened, compared to 18pc of boys and 20pc overall.
Nearly half (46pc) of teens say they feel the internet influences what their boyfriend or girlfriend expects from them in terms of relationship behaviour.
“… Everyone (on Facebook) is putting out there what they do with their boyfriends and there is some pressure to do the same,” the survey reports one teen as having said.
Worried about never living up to the ideal represented online, another teen says, “People only put good things about themselves and put good pictures on Facebook.”
Stanley Holditch, online family safety advocate at McAfee, said teens today face pressure to live up to peer expectations and are basically growing up faster than the normal standards.
“We encourage parents to understand the different realities their teens are dealing with, and recommend they stay informed of what their kids are doing online by maintaining open dialogue with them, and monitor their online use with monitoring software,” Holditch said.