Internet safety has become a fundamental topic in our digital world and includes knowing about one’s internet privacy and how one’s online behavior can support a healthy interaction with the use of the internet. Students must understand that while the internet provides a convenient way to stay in touch with your friends, there are many dangers online that youth must be aware of to be safe. The term “online predator” typically conjures up an image of a creepy old man waiting at a computer screen for the next victim. This depiction is problematic because it doesn’t fit the kinds of risky relationships that are common for youth based on certain internet safety statistics. When online sexual solicitation takes place it is more likely to be between two teens or between a teen and a young adult.
In most extreme cases of online solicitation targets are usually aware of the solicitors true age and intentions. For the small percentage of teens who find themselves in this kind of situation, warning them against unwanted contact isn’t an effective strategy because they have likely grown to be comfortable with their solicitor. A better plan of action is to help teens understand why it is risky to flirt with people they meet online, how to recognize warning signs and why romantic relationships between a teen and an adult is unhealthy.