The Internet can be an efficient tool for teens to broaden their circle of friends. Unfortunately, it also can be dangerous in terms of predators who seek to prey upon unsuspecting teens. If you are a teen who wants to make friends online, there are safe ways for you to do so. If you follow some important precautions, you can get to know other teenagers in a safe environment.
Inform your parents of your desire to make friends online. They may be able to offer some helpful insight in terms of the best ways to go about doing this. Approaching them first also safeguards you from a potentially dangerous "hidden" relationship with someone online.
Visit social networking websites that you have discussed with your parents. When you create a profile for a social networking site, set the privacy controls so that only people you invite can view your profile information and pictures.
Stay away from adult-oriented chat rooms and websites, especially if they involve dating or any online interactions of a sexual nature.
Keep personal information to yourself. Do not disclose your phone number, address or any information that might help someone to find you. If you are in a chat room, use a pseudonym, or made-up screen name rather than your real name.
Develop friendships slowly. If you find someone online that seems to have similar interests, communicate with them regularly but not inordinately. If someone is trying to get in touch with you almost constantly, that is a red flag. If you develop a friendship slowly, you may have a better chance to learn more about the person.
If you intend to meet in person someone you have met online, arrange the meeting in a public place. If you are under the age of 18, have your parent accompany you. Even if you are or older than 18, always bring someone along with you when you are meeting a person that you met on the Internet.
Get permission from your parents before visiting a web site.