The findings do not mean that teens should have carte blanche to share all the intimate details of their life with 300 of their closest "friends," the study warned.
Though social networking sites like Facebook and My Space have come under fire in recent years as havens for sexual predators, incidents of predators actually contacting teens through these sites are less prevalent than media reports might suggest, according to a study released this week."A close perusal of media stories suggests that online molesters have not changed their tactics as a result of the advent of social networking sites," according to a report from the University of New Hampshire's Internet Solution for Kids, Inc.that will be published in the February/March issue of American Psychologist.The study relies on data collected between 20, including interviews with teenage Internet users as well as federal, state and local law enforcement officials.Once you’ve found a site that interest you, click on the “Visit” button at the far right to talk to live girls instantly.
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Girls were more likely to be victimized than boys, though gay boys or those who were confused about their sexuality were also susceptible to predators, the study said. On the whole, offenders are a "diverse group that cannot be accurately characterized with one-dimensional labels," the report said.
Researchers did find, however, that a majority of predators who convinced their victims to meet in person did not resort to violence or abduct the children.
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"Between June and October 2007, we conducted over 400 interviews with police about Internet-related sex crimes and we have yet to find cases of sex offenders stalking and abducting minors on the basis of information posted on social networking sites," report authors said.