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Internet Predator Safety Tips for Teens

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I am 15 years old and my boyfriend is 18 almost to be 19 years old. We have been going out for about two years. But, we live in different states. I'm going to be meeting him for the first time and staying with him for about 2 weeks.

I'm very scared in a way, but excited as well. I don't know what he will think of me because when you meet someone on the net it's different from in person.

What should I wear? My hair up or down?

Also, well sex came up a lot as we have been talking about it for 9 months. I really want to, should I? I really love him a lot, but I don't know if he will like me when we meet.


Scared Excited

Dear Scared Excited,

Meeting someone for the first time after only knowing him on the Internet is scary for several reasons. First, do your parents know this boy? Have they spoken with his parents? It would not be wise to visit him, let alone stay with him, especially in another state if your parents do not approve. If you do have your parent's approval, then dress as you normally would but a little nicer and have a fancier outfit in case you go out to dinner.

A second area of concern is that you are considering having sex with him. You are too young to be having sexual intercourse. Also, you don't really know him since you haven't met him in person, and the only contact has been in the Internet or phone.

In addition, it could be illegal in your state to have sex. You are under the age of consent in most states. He is almost 19, nearly four years older than you. He could be put in jail, and you wouldn't want that to happen. Please see the letter below, "Sex With Minor Can Lead to Jail."

Third, Internet-based child molesters can enter your home from any location in the world via the computer. The teenager that you're emailing may be a 50-year-old child molester.

To minimize encounters with child predators, follow three simple guidelines below.


1. Keep Your Identity Private. Do not give any personal information including your last name, address, city in which you live, phone number, school name, photos, or any private information.

2. Meet in Public with a Friend. If you decide that you want to get together with the person you've met online, then always meet in a public place and take a friend or your parents with you. It's safest to discuss meeting your online friend with your parents who should then speak with your online friend's parents to alleviate any of their concerns. Safety works both ways.

3. Block Inappropriate Emails: never respond to messages that make you feel uncomfortable in any way. If necessary, block the sender and tell an adult.