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Being A Teenager On The Internet (before SA)


newhorizons

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Something that may come as no surprise to some, is the fact that being a young and easily manipulated teenager with unregulated wifi in their house... is quite dangerous for the child's safety.

I was 14. A young and very insecure girl, with a laptop and a newfound curiosity for multiplayer games, chatrooms and omegle. Oh, omegle. That bloody website. I wish I didn't know about it... but all the cool Youtubers were using it. It was an enticing concept, meeting new people with other experiences in life. A 1 on 1 conversation with a complete stranger. Fascinating...

Soon into my discovery of omegle, I met a few people who took a liking to me. I lied about my age, and said I was 16. This didn't turn many people off being my friend, which now seems even more strange, but I felt cool. I started making new friends, mostly male. I loved the attention in my naive hormonal brain, grown men giving me attention and soon calling me late at night. Some were harmless, somewhat toxic and manipulative, but harmless.

One of these people were seemingly harmless, extremely lonely and introverted. We'll call him Frank. The 26 year old Frank lived in Australia, the other side of the world to me in the UK. I thought it was so interesting having a friend from Australia. Whilst the time zone differences were annoying, I'd stay up late to play video games with him, and he would call me every now and then.  There was a little mindless flirting from his side, which I would go along with because I was probably lonely or something (I had a difficult relationship with my dad after my mum's passing). I even told him my real age once I was almost 15... he was fine with the fact he was friends (and flirting) with a young girl.

He would call me cute and beautiful, oftentimes giving me cute little nicknames. Even after I had a boyfriend (my R), he would still flirt, sometimes more after I spoke about little relationship issues. He was one of the first people I told that I lost my V. I thought I was so cool. It's so embarrassing.

We often spoke about meeting up, him coming to the UK and meeting with me, offering to get a hotel together once I was 18 (I didn't realise back then that this was extremely concerning and dangerous). Looking back now, I am disgusted at the fact that I was possibly being groomed from 9,500 miles away.

The empathy part of my brain feels bad for him. Like it does with my R. Maybe he didn't know what he was doing, he was being completely innocent and didn't mean anything sexual by it. Maybe he saw me as someone to look after, because he had such a caregiver attitude towards me. Maybe he was troubled and was just venting in a dark time in his life. Or maybe... he was a 26 year old man who was speaking to a 14-21 year old girl (yes, we were talking for 7 years). I blocked him 3 months ago after realising he was willingly or unwillingly attempting to groom me. Either willingly or unwillingly doesn't matter- he was a dangerous person that I had to get rid of.

I understand that the phrase "grooming" is an extremely grey area, due to the fact that the outcome of being groomed usually solidifies the conviction itself And the fact that he didn't ultimately successfully groom me probably doesn't make it a grooming story, but my point stands: children are so easily manipulated. I was just lucky that he was far away and I was otherwise romantically occupied.

I don't know.

Just thought I'd get some thoughts down!

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@newhorizons Totally agree. I participated in chat rooms at age 15 and some of them were... explicit. No idea who the other people were and it's too easy to think they'll never know who I am.

Now, I'm really scared for kids because with phones--they can be traced. We use our phone numbers just to sign into all these apps.

Kids are looking for people to confide in and it's not just men "grooming" kids, it's women/girls too, who are working for these men.

On a personal note, I attempted dating while questioning my sexuality. I was 17 and found someone, met them then later found out they were much older (in their 40's). They expected sex from me and I said No. They dumped me and I was hurt. But then I realized all they wanted was sex. I really questioned people's motives after that.

Yeah, I'd definitely question the motive of a person 10+ years older. Why would they talk to a kid? Can't they meet someone their own age? Why not? There lies the problem... younger girls don't know as much and won't be as likely to say No.

Older people know this and will prey on younger people.

I would not let my kids on any app/web device unsupervised--even with their friends. Too much danger.

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I agree because went through the same thing @newhorizons. When I was 16 I was groomed by a 26 yr old man under the guise of a relationship and he got me to send him nudes. I was also groomed by other older men online but this instance is the one I remember the most because he told me he was in love with me and wanted to marry me. 

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