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According to Jocelyn Brewer, a Psychologist who works mainly with adolescents, it’s not so much that parents should be worried, but more that they just need to be very aware.“It’s definitely the case that even for teens using social media sites who are not specifically looking to hook up, such advances and suggestions happen.The very nature of social media after all is that it encourages communication and connection, which may well lead to IRL (in real life) meet ups.“Let’s be honest, once you move away from anything like Facebook or Twitter, to sites where there is limited security settings, no processes in place to report stuff, and problems are not followed up, you are getting into dangerous territory.”“Parents need to know that this stuff is out there and talk to their child,” advises Mc Lean. It’s the 21st century and technology is here to stay, so don’t think it’s something that’s part of your child’s world that you don’t need to understand.” Mc Lean says that she has met many parents who have expressed regrets at what they have allowed their children to do online, because they didn’t understand the risks and, as a result of that, it’s come back to bite them.“You need to understand what you are trying to protect your kids from, and you need to have rules and consequences, concludes Mc Lean.“But, more than anything, your child needs to be able to come to you and talk about things, and you need to not be afraid to ever say NO!

My LOL is one such online dating site that is marketed as “Google’s Number One Dating Site for Teens”, with a minimum age requirement of 14, whilst another is Teenspot, which offers chat rooms for its members entitled “singles”, “flirting” and “hottub”.

Whilst Rachel has no data on how often teens who meet online are actually meeting up in ‘real life’, she is certain that it happens, particularly in cases where people live within the same area and have access to public transport and the excuse of going to an event where they can meet.

So is this online hook up trend something that we, as parents, should be worried about?

Another one that is used perhaps more commonly amongst Australian teenagers is Tinder.

What is perhaps more worrying, however, is the fact that the promotion of such sites to a younger audience doesn't seem to just stop there.

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