30% of Teens Meet Online ‘Friends’ Offline: Study [livescience.com]

by Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer

Nearly a third of teenage girls have met people offline after becoming online friends, according to a new study. In many cases the identity of that online character was not fully confirmed before the teens set up a real-life meet-up.

In addition, one in 10 experienced some form of exploitation — ranging from creepy sexual advances to rape — during that offline interaction.

The study, published today (Jan. 14) in the journal Pediatrics, looked at teenage girls, half of whom had been abused in some way in real life. Those who faced abuse or neglect were likelier to exhibit “high risk” online behavior, such as having racy social media profiles or accepting online sexual advances. Risky online behavior, in turn, was tied to meeting Internet “friends” offline.

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