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What are some of the potential dangers for my child surfing on the internet?

The Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire conducted a Youth Internet Safety Survey to better understand the experiences of 1,501 young people, ages 10-17, when using the Internet at least once a month for the past six months.

Here are the Survey’s Highlights:

  • 1 in 4 had an unwanted exposure to pictures of naked people in the last year.
  • 1 in 5 received a sexual solicitation or approach over the Internet in the last year.
  • 1 in 17 was threatened or harassed.
  • 1 in 5 received a sexual solicitation or approach over the Internet in the last year.
  • 1 in 33 received an aggressive sexual solicitation—a solicitor who asked to meet them somewhere; called them on the telephone; sent them regular mail, money, or gifts.
  • Approximately one quarter of young people who reported these incidents were distressed by them.
  • Less than 10% of sexual solicitations and only 3% of unwanted exposure episodes were reported to authorities such as a law-enforcement agency, an Internet service provider or a hotline.
  • About one quarter of the youth who encountered a sexual solicitation or approach told a parent. Almost 40% of those reporting an unwanted exposure to sexual material told a parent.
  • Only 17% of youth and approximately 10% of parents could name a specific authority (such as the FBI, CyberTipline, or Internet service provider) to which they could make a report, although more said they had "heard of" such places.

Other research shows that teens are confident in their skills to manage such incidents. For instance:

  • 1 in 7 admitted that they had been "sexually solicited" but most of these improper requests were from peers, not older sex offenders, and 9 of 10 teens handled the experience appropriately (ignoring the request, blocking the person from their page, telling an adult) and only a few teens said they felt mildly upset by these experiences.

Source: OneToughJob "Internet Safety-What Parents Should Know"; Dr. Larry Rosen "Do you Know What Your Kids are Doing on MySpace? It’s Not as Scary as You’ve Heard and You Can Keep Them Safe"