Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We needed research to tell us this?

How often do we hear a teen say "Would you stop worrying about it? I' m fine! Everything is OK?" Well, add social networking to that growing list of concerns that parents have, but teens simply shrug off. A new analysis conducted by Pew Internet and American Life found that while 1/3 of online teens have been contacted by a complete stranger, only 7% of online teens said they have been contacted by a stranger and that contact made them feel scared or uncomfortable. This is similar to the older data about sexual solicitation. Even when a teen is propositioned online -- not just contacted -- only 25% are distressed. Sure, that is 1 in 4, but a sexual proposition is a lot more invasive than a simple contact. And isn't reaching out to meet new people one of the purposes of Social Networking?

More unsurprising findings (but, as a researcher myself, I appreciate the need to quantify and justify common sense with actual numbers): Girls are more likely to be scared and uncomfortable than boys when a stranger contacts her. Online teens who have social networking profiles are more likely to be contacted by strangers than teens who have no profiles.

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