Online dating? Fun. What about online dating dangers? The need-to knows …

Online dating forums and chat rooms are now de rigeur, especially with teens. You can sit down at your PC in your jammies and be chatting with dozens of other singles in a matter of minutes. If you consider that the participants represent a fair cross section of society, you realize that what you see – or are given to believe – about a person may not correspond with reality. While online dating may be fun, you need to be aware of the other side of this coin, online dating dangers. Don’t take this lightly. Online dating dangers are real and can pose some serious consequences. Even adults can be snared.
How about online predators? You’ve heard of them. These characters usually frequent chat rooms and forums favored by teens. They often pose as teens themselves, when in fact, they are much older and have ill intent. These guys figure they are far more sophisticated and smooth than the average teen. Here are some of the signatures of the predator. He’ll start out slow, reeling you in with cool, chatty talk. He’s familiar with teen jargon and all the popular acronyms. He intersperses his chat with subtle questions about you, veiled in words designed to impress you with his genuine interest in who you are, flattering to a young woman. Sooner or later, he’ll start getting more personal, wanting to know where you live, what school you attend, your age, private email address and perhaps your phone number. As you begin to see these signals, what you’re seeing is one of the most prevalent of online dating dangers. The message here? Never give out any personal information, which includes your last name.
No matter how innocent or attractive this person may seem, should you ‘meet’ someone with such a profile, get one of your parents or another trusted adult to sit down with you in one of these chat sessions. If you’ve got suspicions, it’s likely that your adult observer will also perceive this individual as fitting in to the ‘online dating dangers’ category and suggest that you notify the chat room or forum administrator and then switch to another site, using a different moniker.
Other online dating dangers include other teens with malicious intent. Someone who knows you and the chat rooms you frequent, and holds a grudge – perhaps, for example, because you’re ‘dating’ someone she had her eye on. This person may pose as a guy, sending messages to your ‘date’ denigrating your character, trying to ruin your reputation, just to get back at you. In some cases, such ‘games’ have ended in real-life violence. Should you find yourself in a situation where some unknown starts backstabbing, or tries to lure you to a secret meeting locally, it’s best to report this to the site administrator – and then find a new site.
When choosing a site, ‘lurk’ for a while before leaping in to the conversation. Observe the general remarks of the members to see what sort of conversations are the norm. Flaming, bad-mouthing and crude language is indicative of a lack of substance, as well as good fishing grounds for predators.
In summary, to avoid the many forms of online dating dangers, never, ever give out personal information by which someone might identify you or your home town. Aside from the predators and other people with malicious intent, your personal information can be used in identity theft operations. These financial ‘predators’ can be quite clever and, with just a little information, exploit your identity for their financial gain.
Online dating can be fun, but let’s face it – seldom do these relationships go any further than your PC screen. Treat online dating as a superficial entertainment and keep safe from the very real online dating dangers.