A third of 15 to 18 year-olds in the United Kingdom have met a person in “real life” after originally connecting with them for the first time on social media, reveals a new study.
Newsbeat polled more than 1,000 British teenagers about their digital habits, and found that one quarter feel happier online than anywhere else.
The study discovered that Facebook was the number one social network amongst teens, used by 89 percent of respondents, ahead of Twitter (62 percent) and Snapchat (58 percent).
25 percent of the teenagers surveyed said that they thought they were addicted to social media, while 62 percent thought that their friends were.
25 percent wished they could give up social media entirely.
“Although we create and maintain our friendships online in a very real way, it is not safe to assume that strangers we meet online are anything other than strangers,” said Dr Emma Short, a psychologist at the University of Bedfordshire, who believes that the number of teenagers meeting up with people they first connect with online is worrying.
“When you’re 15 and you’re very effective at identifying friends and risk, it’s easy to assume you can do that online. It’s not safe in that they may not be who they say they are and you know nothing about them apart from the conversation you’ve had online – which is a very small part of their lives and the person they may be.”