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

th high-risk peers was an additional risk factor for in-person encounters.

"The Proteus Effect, or the idea that one's presentation of oneself can affect the behavior of the presenter as well as of the receiver, has important implications in this age of wide reliance on Internet use, where users can portray themselves in a multitude of fashions," says Dr. Noll. "Self-presentations can change the way Internet users interact in a manner that increases the risk for online sexual advances. Your behavior can change based on how you present yourself to the world. It isn't just naive kids who are vulnerable. Those who choose to present themselves as 'sexually sophisticated' are particularly vulnerable to those who would choose to be exploitive of such self descriptions."

The presentation of oneself in a provocative manner, however, is not necessarily limited to Websites that rely on avatars as the primary interface. For female adolescents in particular, self-presentations such as a compilation of photographs and narrative descriptions on networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace might also increase their vulnerability, according to Dr. Noll. "Some adolescents include content on their social networking face pages that is alarmingly provocative and revealing. These are the snapshots that are revealed publicly, for all to see.

"Those adolescents who may be unaware of how their appearance might be perceived may not, from a developmental perspective, possess the social sophistication necessary to field and ward off sexual advances in ways that protect them from sexually explicit suggestions," she says. "This may be a particularly important lesson to convey to female adolescents who are especially vulnerable to exploitation and victimization, such as those who have been victims of childhood abuse."

Parents can play an important role in preventing exposure to online sexual solicitations, according to Dr.
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SOURCE Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
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