They march off en masse to the mall or to the movies, or join a gang tossing a Frisbee on the beach.Don’t confuse group dating with double-dating or triple-dating.The FBI has reported multiple cases of adult men sexually exploiting minors they met on mobile apps. But when we asked teens about dating apps, they brushed off the idea that teens were using them. A high school junior offered, “Lots of my friends use Instagram to meet and start a relationship.” This was echoed by several other teens, who all agreed that commenting or liking a stranger’s (or a friend of a friend’s) social media posts might lead to in-person meetups later.
This puts teens at risk, cautions Ellen Harrell, director of outreach and prevention for the National Center for the Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).It’s critically important, then, for parents and teens to maintain an open dialogue about what teenagers are up to in real life and online, and to step in when necessary.Today, social media enables teens to connect with and meet up with strangers much more easily than ever before.While people of all ages should use caution, meeting strangers online presents a particular danger to adolescents.Teens may exude social media-savvy, but they’re prone to risky behavior. And they often aren’t developmentally ready to spot red flags, says Christine Elgersma, senior editor of parenting education for .