Meeting people online

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Sometimes it’s easier to meet people online. But trust your gut – things aren’t always what they seem.

Online dating  sites or chat for teens (or adults, if you’re over 18) can be a way to meet new people outside the usual crowd at school, work or uni. You can find and talk to people who like the same bands, movies and things that you do.

Meeting people online

In some ways, meeting people online is similar to meeting people in real life. But online relationships can be different – and more dangerous – than meeting people in real life.

Talking and flirting online: when it’s the same as real life

  • You can feel really attracted to someone.
  • You can joke around and have fun together.
  • You can feel like you’re getting to know them over time.
  • If you’re crushing on them, you might do things you normally wouldn’t, things that you might regret later.

When it’s different to real life

  • It can feel more intense and ‘special’ because you might talk more often or share more personal stuff than you would in real life.
  • You can feel more confident, funny and smarter chatting online than you feel in person.
  • If you haven’t met them, they could be really different in person to how they are online.
  • Things can move fast – one minute you’re flirting, the next minute you’re pressured for a sexy pic or to webcam yourself.

Really different (and more risky) than real life

  • The other person can lie about who they are and their age.
  • They could talk to you in a way that you don’t like.
  • You could be asked  do things on webcam or with your camera that feel wrong or uncomfortable.
  • They could take your photos or private things you’ve written and send them to others, or post them on websites.
  • They could impersonate you by using your personal information online or setting up a fake profile of you.
  • They could harass you by messaging you every time you go online or by sending threatening messages.

Tips for online safety

Trust your gut. If something about them doesn’t add up, drop all contact.

Don’t tell them your address, phone number, school, sports teams or the after-school stuff you do or places you go to a lot.

Don’t accept Facebook or MySpace friend requests from people you’re not sure about.

If you’re really into someone you’ve met online, talk about them with friends and family. Sometimes it is easier for someone you know well to tell if something suspicious is going on than it is for you – particularly if you are in the midst of a situation. If things start feeling funny or you’re not sure what’s going on, stop talking with them.

Meeting them face to face

There’s some real risks in meeting up with people who you’ve only had contact with online.
The thing is, it’s hard to know what the person is really like – because the only thing you know about them is what they’ve told you. When you haven’t met face to face, you can’t easily pick up the body language cues that can help us to judge whether someone is genuine or not. You might not know their friends or family or anyone around them. You don’t have any way of verifying that they are who they say they are.
So think very carefully about meeting face to face.
If there’s a little voice telling you something’s not right – listen to it. Do you feel pressured by them? Do they listen to you? Do they seem genuine? Does everything they said add up?
If you decide to meet someone in person who you’ve met online:
  • Tell your parents and/or other people.
  • Get someone you trust to go with you – a close friend is good.
  • Always meet in a public place, like a cafe, a shopping centre.
  • Don’t get a ride with them or go to their place.

What to do if things get weird

Report Abuse button from Think U Know Australia websiteReport weird or threatening online behaviour straight away to ThinkUKnow.org.au.

Will I get into trouble if I report someone?

NO. You won’t be in trouble, whatever you have done.

Creepy adults can be really good at making you feel guilty or scared if you report something. They might try  to make you keep quiet about what has happened. Reporting is the best way to make them stop.

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2 Responses to “Meeting people online”

  1. I use to meet guys all the time off the internet until i had a few near misses. I felt weird about guy and took out an avo he told me her was 26 and then went to police found he was 36.. another near miss was when i got involved with someone who has severe depression… so girls take my advice stay calm they may there mr wonderful and that they wont hurt you but never trust someone till u know them fully

  2. I met someone online and now i am having to prepare to file a temporary restrainign order on him because he is harassing me about my life.