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It’s no secret that teenagers are keen and able users of the internet, and with the continued growth and ever evolving trends in social media and social networking it looks like things are not set to change anytime in the near future.

A recent survey conducted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority revealed that the vast majority of eight to 17 year-olds had accessed the Internet in the last four weeks, with figures reflecting 95 percent usage between the 8 to 11 year olds, and 100 percent usage amongst the 16-17 year olds.

Whilst the main reasons for internet use were the same across all age groups, it was quite apparent that the use of social networking remained as one of the top motives for young adolescents to be on the computer, with the breakdown of figures reflecting a 69 percent usage amongst the 12 -13 year olds, an 86 percent usage amongst the 14-15 year olds and a 92 percent usage amongst the 16-17 year olds.

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?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.Obviously the level of this communication and connection is probably not the quality ones most parents would prefer.”Brewer highlights that the key for parents is to maintain awareness around everything that their child is doing online and believes that whilst this isn’t necessarily a trend that is hugely popular at the present time, it could well be something that we see increase in the future as children get more sexualised and more emphasis is put on sex and sex acts as a ‘currency’ to prove a child’s worth and skill.Susan Mc Lean, Australia’s leading expert in cyber safety and young people, echoes much of the advice given by Brewer and is quite clear in expressing the importance of the role of parenting in the age of the internet and social media.“The Internet has allowed people to connect with anyone and everyone, and children and young people are earlier adopters of technology.

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