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Study Demonstrates Internet Risks for Teen Girls
Date:5/26/2009

One in Four Reports Meeting Offline

CINCINNATI, May 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new study demonstrates why parents need to know how their teenage girls present themselves online.

The study, published in the June issue of Pediatrics, shows that teen girls who would depict themselves online in a provocative way, and teen girls with a history of child abuse, are more likely to receive online sexual advances and then meet those individuals offline.

Moreover, 40 percent of all 173 teen girls in the study reported experiencing online sexual advances, and 26 percent reported meeting someone in person who they first met online.

"The importance of parental monitoring of adolescent Internet use cannot be understated," says Jennie Noll, PhD, a psychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the study's main author. "This is particularly important given that 55 percent of adolescent Internet users have or are currently using social networking Websites.

Dr. Noll studied girls between the ages of 14 and 17. Each was asked to create an avatar -- an electronic image to represent herself -- and complete a questionnaire regarding her computer and Internet usage, sexual attitudes and activities, substance use, involvement with peers, and presence of maternal and paternal caregivers.

The avatars they created were evaluated based on previously defined categories spanning a continuum from conservative to provocative, depending on such factors as bust and hip size, upper body clothing, lower body clothing and piercings. Those who had depicted themselves as provocative in terms of body and clothing choices were more likely to have had online sexual advances.

In addition to choosing a provocative avatar, other risk factors for online sexual advances included substance abuse and being preoccupied with sex and sexual thoughts. Associating wi
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SOURCE Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
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