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Hooking Your Kids Up with Safe Dating Practices

Today’s teens have grown up with the Internet, so many of their social structures revolve around social media. Therefore, it should be no surprise that online dating platforms often play a role in their romantic relationships.

As the mother of a 13-year-old and 17-year-old, Fielding Graduate University faculty member

and Media Psychologist Dr. Karen Dill-Shackelford understands first-hand that, “Teen dating itself, with or without apps, is never going to be worry or trouble-free, but it’s normal, and can be a very healthy, part of teen development.”

Still, online dating and friending apps can expose teenagers to certain safety risks, such as identity theft, cyberbullying, and the dangers of online predators. That’s why, explains Dr. Dill-Shackelford, “A parent’s best friend and first line of defense is to have good information, and then keep the conversation open with their kids.”

“Unlike adults on dating apps, teenagers lack essential offline experience in communicating with potential partners,” adds Aleksandra Atanasova, a social media consultant at the European Commission in Brussels and founder of “Online dating platforms can become a comfort zone for teens who have not started dating in real life, and it can also hamper them developing the soft skills needed for communication. Security and all privacy issues aside,” she continues, “teens need to be made aware that online relationships cannot equal real life ones, and that meeting people in person can sometimes be more challenging than online chatting.”

So what are some of the best ways for a parent to open up communication with their kids about a delicate topic like online dating? First and foremost, ask kids what they are doing online and then really listen to why they like or don’t like what’s going on there. Dr. Dill-Shackelford recommends you also encourage them to open up by “letting your kids show you how the apps they are using work.”

Parents must be diligent about staying on top of the latest trends. For starters (and just in time for Valentine’s Day and Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month), why not download our latest "Teen Hookup Apps” infographic, which has just been updated with new (and shocking) information for parents. Other great parenting and online dating tips can be found in our Learning hubs here.

Raising teens has never been easy. But rest assured, however, that the more knowledge both you and your teens are equipped with, the more prepared you'll be if a situation arises, and the better chance they’ll have of developing safe and healthy relationships in the future.

About Cynthia Lieberman: Cynthia Lieberman is co-Founder, and owner of Lieberman Communications, a content marketing and PR consultancy firm for Fortune 500 companies. Equipped with a graduate degree in Media Psychology and Social Change, Lieberman is a Board of Director for the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). She teaches Social Media Marketing at UCLA Extension and recently served as an Adjunct Professor in Mass Communications at California State University, Northridge.

This blog post originally ran 2-12-18


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