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“By and large, teens are not sneaking out to meet these people.

Most interactions have a safety mechanism — either a parent is present or it happens in a public space,” she said, adding that adults — in the context of online dating — are often less safe about vetting strangers. The biggest mistake parents make, boyd says, is when they tell kids "No, you can’t meet the person," rather than telling them, "Getting to know strangers is a process." So, if your teen says they want to meet their Minecraft friend in person, ask them a few questions first to see how much they actually know about the person, suggests boyd.

So when your teen tells you they want to take an Internet friendship — with someone they’ve only met virtually through social media or video games — to the next level by having actual human contact, it raises the question: Should you facilitate the meeting or fret about it?

For Debra Spark, taking her then 13-year-old son to meet a 16-year-old online friend in a different state was something she never thought she would do.

Spark, a professor at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, described her reluctance and ultimate acquiescence: My “creep” feelers went out.Aidan met Amie through the computer game Minecraft.Their gaming turned into Skype conversations where they discovered other common interests.I flashed on stories of predators who entrap young adults through false IDs, of adults who imagine they are IMing with a pretty Russian girl, only to discover they are corresponding with a robot, eager less for love than a credit card number. ” Teens and parents have different views of online friendships because they have different ideas of what socializing should look like, says danah boyd (who doesn't capitalize her name), author of “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.” More From Today: Should Kids Wear School Uniforms?Still it would be fun to have Aidan with me at the literary festival. Parents, who tend to be less comfortable with social media and other online technologies than teens, can’t help but fear that when online relationships evolve to in-person interactions, they are inherently dangerous or risky because they involve “strangers.” “As parents, we have a responsibility to protect our children.

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