What do I do if I find out that my child is having an online-only relationship with someone I don’t know?
Online dating, particularly for adults, has become easier with apps like Tinder, Bumble and many others out there. Swiping right is the new way to date. For teens, the trend is also becoming the new normal.
Instead of getting angry with your child for using online dating sites, take the time to talk to them and understand their reasons for dating online.
Talk to your child about basic ways to protect themselves from potential online risks including sexting and location sharing. Even though they are teenagers it is always good to remind them about the importance of protecting their identity.
More importantly, guide your child so they can protect themselves when chatting online. Teach them how to spot when someone is taking advantage of them. For example, when a person is asking for a nude selfie or asking them to switch on the webcam.
Find out how your child has met this person. Whether they met through a popular social media site, a dating app or platform it’s important to make sure your child is not hanging out at the wrong place online just like how you would do in the real world. Keep in mind that many dating sites are made for adults aged 18+.
Also, try to find out as much as you can about the person he/she is dating. Do not be judgemental but be interested. Ask the questions you would normally ask if your child is dating this person in the real world. For example, how does he/she look like, where he/she go to school, etc.
Do not be afraid to do your own homework and try to find out about the person your child is dating. You can talk to your child, so they don’t feel like you are invading their privacy.
Stay calm, remain positive and have open conversations with your child so they feel free to share things that may be affecting them. Be prepared to listen and don’t forget to talk about the risks of meeting someone they don’t know. Explain to them that for safety reasons you do not think it is a good idea to meet a stranger without informing you first.