With the Internet, texting, and social media, it’s easy to meet people we’ve never seen. We can chat, send photos, share videos, talk, become friends… and even fall in love! But this kind of relationship can also be dangerous. Here are some tips for staying safe and comfortable.
1. Realize that you’re dreaming… a little bit
Virtual love contains its share of dreams. We imagine the person: his/her smile, face, body, what we’d say, what we’d do together… But in reality, that person might be very different! If you met him/her, would you find him/her physically attractive? Would you like the way he/she behaves? Would you share the same values?
2. Do you really know the person?
In the online world, we only show part of ourselves. Consciously or unconsciously, it’s easy to enhance the truth or gloss over some aspects of our personality. A person with bad intentions can lie, hide his/her true nature, or pretend to be someone else. So use caution!
3. Careful what you reveal!
Online, people can start asking personal questions, confiding in each other, talking about sensitive topics… and it all happens very fast. Even if your feelings are very strong, don’t send overly intimate photos or videos of yourself. You don’t know how the other person might use them or who he/she might show them to. And avoid giving him/her too much information about yourself, such as your address or workplace, or the name of your school or your teacher.
4. Meet the other person face to face
If you meet the other person, you’ll know right away if your hopes can ever become reality! His/her actions, attitude, and behaviour with you and his/her friends or parents will give you a better idea of his/her personality. For your own safety, meet the person in a public place, tell someone when and where the meeting will be, and ask a friend to go with you.
5. Pay attention to any warning signals
In general, you should ask the other person lots of questions to get an idea of their personality. You can also set up a video meeting to get to know him/her better. Above all, don’t meet someone who:
- Refuses to show you his/her face
- Doesn’t want you to talk about him/her to other people
- Doesn’t accept it if you say no
- Pressures you because he/she is absolutely determined to meet you
- Pays way too much attention to you
Most of all, listen to your intuition. If something bothers you or worries you, talk about it to an adult you trust or call us!