Dating websites targeting teens could pose dangers - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Dating websites targeting teens could pose dangers

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Dating websites are commonplace, but what about virtual matchups geared towards teenagers? A social media expert is warning parents about dating sites targeted at a younger demographic.
    
Jenny Schmitt said that some of the content found on the sites can be racy and risky. The sites can be easily accessed by teens looking for love and others with more suspect intentions.

"You don't even have to have a login to get on some of these sites. So you can just go on, create an identity, upload a picture and start chatting right away," Schmitt said.

There's no terms of agreement, no security profiles -- no way to keep out people who could be predators

Experts say the danger lies in the tendency of teens to trust when one never knows who is actually on the other end.

Young people often offer things online that they wouldn't offer in person to strangers, including phone numbers.

"They're not really looking at it through the lens of either a parent or someone who has more experience. They're looking at it as getting attention, some accolades, maybe some feedback of how great they are," Schmitt said.

Schmitt says that teens shouldn't use their real pictures on their profiles. Instead, they should use animated avatars.

"Chose a name that's not your name and doesn't include physical details," she said.

Schmidt advises parent to take a look at their teens' computer history for apps on tablets and phones. She also urges parent to talk with their teens about what they're looking for and what friends they've made online and ask to see those friends' profiles.

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