Internet dating and online friendships : harmless or not?
Internet dating and online friendships are only seemingly harmless. As Parker explains, Internet users interested in cyber dating or online friendships have 10,000 specialized websites to choose from. Then, within each website they have several chat rooms to choose from; for instance, they can enter chat rooms which are reserved for people that have specific interests, hobbies or specific age groups (Parker). Furthermore, within each chat room, they have numerous people to choose from, striking up a conversation only with the people that they find interesting. Furthermore, the length of the conversation, the topics that are discussed and how long it lasts or whether it is repeated again or not, or develops into a relationship or not, is all controlled by the internet user himself, or herself. Consequently, the structure of online dating and how relationships develop make the users feel that they control the situation and command the relationship.
The stark reality is that internet dating is not safe and is hardly controlled by users. Quite simple stated, people may not be who they claim. Their true identity, their real activities, and even whether or not they have a criminal record are all important unknown characteristics. Worst of all, not knowing these facts can lead to rape or death. In one case, a 13 year old girl arranged a meeting with her online boyfriend. He turned out to be a 25 year old criminal who raped,