March 15, 2013 —

Every month, we’re keeping you informed on the latest studies and research in our “Not My Teen” blog series. Today, we’re looking at teenage Internet safety- specifically when it comes to teens meeting in-person with people they first met online.

Parents have always been concerned about their teens engaging in risky behaviors, but the Internet has created even more safety concerns that parents need to be aware of. A recent study published in the eFirst pages of the journal Pediatrics found that 30 percent of teens reported meeting up with someone offline who they first met online, without knowing their true identify. The study highlighted the heightened risk for abused and neglected teen girls, who are more likely to present themselves in a sexual manner online.

Risky online behaviors are often associated with risky offline behaviors such as alcohol and substance abuse. Unfortunately, as we know, substance abuse is not limited to illegal drugs like marijuana. It can also be legal substances like prescription drugs or over-the-counter cough medicine. Parents need to be aware that there are a number of websites and online communities that promote and inform teens on how to abuse over-the-counter products that contain the ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM) to get high. That is why it is important to regularly monitor your teen’s online activity and talk to them about their online and offline behaviors.

Learn more about the study and its findings here.