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Stranger Danger: how many teens are talking to strangers online?

Last Updated: April 17, 2015

Luke Gilkerson
Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Your Brain on Porn and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

Just how many teens are talking with strangers online, and how many are meeting up with those strangers?

In 2006, Cox Communications partnered with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and TV host and children’s advocate John Walsh to better understand teen online behavior, Internet safety, and the role parents play in their children’s use of online media. They conducted a national survey among 1,000 U.S. teenagers ages 13-17.

Their report shows that nearly 7 out of 10 teens have received personal messages from people they’ve never met. These teens were asked “When someone whose name you don’t recognize contacts you online (email, IM, text, or chat messages), do you usually ignore their messages?” 6 of 10 said yes. 3 of 10 said they replied to the messages or chatted with them.

8% of teens surveyed said they had actually met with someone they had only talked to online. This percentage was higher for 16- and 17-year-olds (14%) and lower for 13- to 15-year-olds (4%).

It is important to note, however, that the report lacks information as to whether the individuals they met were also other teens or adults.

Click here to download the full research findings.



  • Comments on: Stranger Danger: how many teens are talking to strangers online?
    1. Isabelle Ouellet

      Hello M. Gilkerson,

      I will have to make a presentation on Internet sexual predator and I would like to use your image (the black man on computer with the green wallpaper.). Do you think it is possible?
      Thank you,

    2. We would like to you the same image on our website http://www.teensafetyalliance.com along with a link to this article. We provide education and information to help protect teens and their families from, helping to protect from the legal consequences of Sexting and being sexually active. We also include online safety tips.

      Thank you,
      Tracy Jacobsen

      • Luke Gilkerson

        @Tracy – Thanks for posting this! It will be great to network with you.

    3. Nic

      I have to make a poster for my class about online hacking, hoaxes, and scams with children. So I was making sure it was okay for me to use that image as well. Thank you. :)

      • Luke Gilkerson

        We don’t personally own the image.

    4. Cg

      So, it’s not generally not safe for teens to go out in the internet and chat with strangers?

      • Cg

        Generally not*

      • Chris McKenna

        Correct, it’s generally something that should be avoided unless parents are involved. I can tell you from too many stories and too many friends in law enforcement that there is no teen who is smarter than some of the predators who are out there. Not one. Please be very careful.

        Peace, Chris

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