Before you proceed to read this article, there is something you should know. I’ve contemplated for days whether or not to send this article in. My concerns were what if one of my friends read it? Well, to my dear friends if you do read this, just know that I am sincere and truly care about your safety. I only included your experiences in this because I really believe that I see something you don’t in this site. Let’s take the glamour out of online dating, and be true to ourselves. Thank you.
Without sounding like a whiner, I must say that truthfully, you may not notice it, but teenage girls have a lot of pressure on them these days. I know because I happen to be a teenage girl. We are expected to fit in with our peers, look nice, accessorize, find time to slap on makeup in the morning, get good grades, have a boyfriend, and all while killing ourselves to maintain or achieve that super-model-perfect body from the movies the guys love so much. Has anyone ever come charging in and demanded these things from us? No, but let’s just say the world definitely hints as to what the perfect woman is. From the big screen to the billboard ads, every day we girls are nonverbally told what is expected from us physically and emotionally. I never really noticed it until at times I found myself upset for reasons I could not identify. One of the biggest things that happen to bother me is when I go a long time without being in a relationship. I know what you’re thinking. I’m sure you’re thinking she’s just a teenager, and how unhealthy and pathetic that statement was. Hey, I’m just being honest with you. Being a fifteen year old girl, I find that many other girls my age share this fear that there is something wrong with them because they are not at the moment tied down to a significant other; but for some of my friends this diluted theory that they are less of a person without a boyfriend has manifested into a dangerous lifestyle resulting from a popular networking website that a lot of teenagers use.
There is a website called myyearbook.com, it’s a popular website used by a lot of teenagers I know. I wouldn’t classify it as a “dating website” per say for teenagers, but that is basically what it is in my opinion. The sites main attraction is this: “meet great people near you!” When you visit their site, at the top by the title it says “Friends. Flirts. Fun.” Sounds good doesn’t it? Any teenager would be lured into making an account because it targets the three things a teen’s life revolves around. It allows people, including your teenager, to chat with perfect strangers. Most teens I know exchange their cell phone numbers with these people over the internet, only knowing the person they’re speaking so freely with by the pictures they post and age they could truthfully or falsely give to your child. There are a few features on the site, one of which includes live webcaming. Frankly though, I don’t recommend it. One night my friends were on this site, and clicked to go “live”. Well the person they decided to randomly connect with showed a lot more than anyone was comfortable with. A grown man pulled out his penis to show my adolescent friends. Sadly a few of my close friends use this site often, and still do, despite their terrible and dangerous experiences with it. How about we talk about a few examples to prove my point of why your son or daughter should not come within miles of this website.
My close friend Sarah is great. She is funny, nice, and a very shy non-confrontational person. For whatever the reason may be, guys at school have not really noticed or took an interest in her yet. She expressed her frustration over this a couple times before to me, and I told her give it time and asked her what her rush was. A few short weeks later, we were sitting in the cafeteria and she was beaming going on and on about a date she had tonight. I was so happy for her because I had never seen her this happy in the time I’ve known her. I didn’t ask too many details, and just assumed she met this guy through a friend or something. I was happy for her, until the next day that is. That morning Sarah came to school in her gray fur boots, but the fur appeared to be missing off of them. “Sarah what happened to your gorgeous boots!?” I asked her. She sat down and gave me a desperate look. “It’s a long story.” She replied. She went on to tell me that the guy she met through this website took her out, AND TRIED TO SET HER ON FIRE. I know right, it sounds like one of those twisted lifetime movies. I assure you though, this was for real. I am thankful that the freak only succeeded in singeing her boots and not Sarah herself. Not only was this guy sick, but was 6 years older than Sarah. Obviously, I was super freaked out about this story. I asked her what she was thinking, going to meet some guy she met on the internet. Even after that horrible story, she then started to almost defend him telling me it could have just been an accident. She said that when she screamed at him he told her he did not think the liter would light. The whole time I was thinking hmm, if you hold a lighter up to someone’s body, and give it a few hard clicks, what exactly is your motive there? Sarah is just one of the most naïve girls I have ever met. I hope I am not right, but I truly believe it could be the end of her one day if she doesn’t wise up and ditch the belief that everyone in the world is as ingenuous as she is. Oh, and in case you are wondering, Sarah did not stop using the site for a long time after this incident and plenty occurred since then. Like the guy who tried to fist fight her, or how about the charming fellow that was on probation.
Sadly, Sarah is definitely not the only one of my friends who is fascinated by this website. Take my friend Kayla. She’s also a shy nice girl who was sucked into this website’s method of meeting new people. She is currently still using this website too. Every week I hear about the creepy text messages she gets from these guys from the site she gave her number to, but I think I’m the only one of us who thinks they are creepy. Kayla’s never been in a real relationship before and is absolutely tickled by these texts of admiration for her. Keep in mind, they have never met. Kayla receives texts that say these guys love her. That they want to meet, and questions like “how far would you go”. Anyway, she takes these text messages to heart and talks to me about these guys like they’ve met and have been committed in a relationship for months. Sometimes I just can’t take her babbling and want to slap some sense into her. I feel very strongly about the dangers of this website and worry about my friends at times. I warn them constantly, plus they have their own proof of what comes from it. They just think it’s a joke and laugh when I tell them they could end up dead by meeting these guys they don’t know. What else can I do? Well, I’m done with worrying about their safety. Now it’s time to help keep every other teenager in the world safe. That is why I am writing this article; to warn parents about what their kids are really doing online sometimes. Do you really think Sarah and Kayla’s parents are aware they belong to this site? Please, fat chance. This is because if they did in fact know, then they would make them delete their account immediately and definitely keep a tighter rein on their child’s whereabouts.
In conclusion, this article was not intended to bash myyearbook. I think myyearbook is a website that reaps many benefits IF used by adults perhaps in search of old classmates or something similar to that; but not for naïve teenagers in search of new people. This is an article I’ve pieced together from real life experiences my close friends encountered as a result of this site, and the scary truth and dangers I believe it to hold. I’d have to say this article centers more around the dangers of online dating than the site itself. To me this site is just proof though at how easily your child can connect with strangers and how fast they innocently assume they’re just like them, and go meet them. In my opinion this website puts teens in potentially harmful situations with people they don’t really know. I’m not saying everyone on this website are sick people, but the ones I’ve seen come from it certainly were. Is having a boyfriend or girlfriend through this site really worth the harmful risks? Of course not, but to your adolescent at home they could be. Help your kids understand that their relationship status does not define who they are. Make it clear that a feeling of self worth does and should not come from whom they date. Talk to your children about the dangers of online dating. Make sure you know what they’re doing and who they’re meeting. Show them this article; then maybe my friends stupidity will become your child’s wisdom. Thank you for reading and please help keep our teens safe out there!