I am no stranger to meeting many of my friends through social media - in the twenty first century, it is so easy to find people who have stuff in common with you and build a friendship as a result of it. You can talk to them over many platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat etc and also video call on Skype and Ooovoo.
But there will come a time where you may be able to meet. I’ve met one of my internet friends at a concert and it was amazing, but I was also really careful. When we’re kids, we’re told all about internet safety and how we shouldn’t share too much information - but is it different as a teenager?
If you’re meeting an internet friend, it’s always good to video call them first. This means you can see them sort of in person, and you’ll know if they’re using a fake profile picture, or lying about their age.
You also shouldn’t go alone - this might seem like something you’d be told in primary school, but it’s actually a really serious thing. If you’re meeting somewhere and you’re alone, only to find out the person is in fact not who they say they are, then it could be a potentially dangerous situation.
You also be careful about where you meet - if they suggest a secluded place such as a park near their house, there’s a chance it could be empty. Building on the last thing I said about being alone and discovering the person has been lying could be a threatening situation. If you live near a shopping center or even have the ability to go to the nearest city center, then that is the much safer alternative.
Lastly - make you sure know what they look like! The video call is always a very good way to do this, but if you’re planning on meeting somebody who’s only profile pictures are avatars, it might be worth asking for a selfie just so you know who you’re looking for.
This is not me implying that meeting internet friends is a dangerous idea, because I have met one of mine before and it was wonderful, and I very much wish I could meet all of them. But there are always going to be cases where someone is being catfished, lied to or mislead when it comes to people over the internet and it’s important to take measures that ensure you are not one of the few who has to deal with being hurt over the internet.
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers with a platform to share and help others from their own experiences while also educating others on different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all teenagers around the world and support others. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.