As you scroll through the page of the Facebook group “Teens Dating 17+100” [Note: Link may include explicit content.], it’s difficult to tell what type of online community it is.
As the name suggests, there are photos of smiling teens and silly selfies. But for every innocent teen image, there are four or five explicit and pornographic photos and a stream of requests that invite strangers to connect and rate photos, comments that bully and belittle, and posts that share personal information and welcome members to contact and “friend” each other.
Despite what its name implies, Teen Dating 17+100 is a dangerous digital space for an adult to find themselves, let alone a child or a teen. This group is just one of the popular communities of “Teen Dating” networks that are on Facebook, and parents need to take notice.
The Danger of Teen Dating Facebook Groups
Teen Dating Facebook Groups are nothing new to social media. Groups that invite teens to join and connect with each other have been around for years.
But the true ugliness and danger of these sites recently came to light when the death of 13-year-old girl in Virginia was connected to the group, “Teen Dating and Flirting.”
On January 1st, a 7th grader, Nicole Lovell posted a selfie in the group with the caption, “cute or nah.” The photo received over 300 responses, many of them which were mean and vicious. Just a few weeks later, Lovell was found dead.
Police believe that Lovell may have been lured to her death by a member of the group who saw her saw her online.
How to Protect Your Teen
Parents need to take notice that these innocent sounding “teen” groups are actually places for dangerous adults and predators to find, bully, and pray on young teens.
To keep your kids safe from Facebook teen groups and others like it, we recommend that you:
- Pay attention to the apps your kids are using and use them yourself. If your kid is on Facebook, get on Facebook. Create a profile on all of the social media apps they use so you can be aware of the platform, how it works, and who uses it.
- Don’t expect your kids to tell you all of the apps they use. Check their phones to review newly installed apps and to open up the apps to try them out. Kids will often create multiple accounts to hide their activity, so log in from their phones to see what they are doing.
- Periodically check their online communication to make sure they are only talking with trusted and known family and friends.
- Don’t give your teen unlimited access to their phones and computers. Regulate when and where they use their devices so you can better monitor their activity and usage.
- Report any suspicious activity to law enforcement. If you do find that a stranger has formed an inappropriate relationship with you child, don’t delay. Notify law enforcement immediately.
As a parent, monitoring all of your children’s social media activity is a big job, but it is an extremely important job. So, make it a priority.
You can use the MamaBear, The Ultimate Parenting App™ to simplify the management of your social media check-ins. The free app, available for both iPhones and Androids, enables parents to connect their profile with their children’s social media accounts so checking in and keeping your kids safe is easy and effective.
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