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Thorn webinar -- Online Grooming: Examining risky encounters amid everyday digital socialization
This webinar will present research Thorn conducted in 2021 that explored kids’ online connections, including who they are connecting with, why they connect, and how risks of online grooming surface amid their everyday digital interactions. The webinar will include an examination of the demographic and technology correlates of online grooming risk among a nationally representative sample of 1,200 youth between the ages of 9 and 17 recruited in the United States through a marketing research panel. The session will include an exploration of youth attitudes and experiences with friendships and flirting online, how they respond to threats of manipulation, grooming, and abuse online, and recommendations for enhancing child safety in digital spaces.

Intended Audience
FPA members, Industry, Child Safety Advocates

Practical takeaways
- Online relationships can be quite personal and meaningful — and for 1 in 3 young people, their closest friendships formed online.
- Flirting and dating online are viewed as common, even when it involves an adult or someone much older. While it was more common among teens, still roughly 1 in 3 9-12-year-old believed it was common to date a young adult online.
- Minors are regularly encouraged to leave open forums for 1-to-1 environments by online-only contacts. In fact, two-thirds of minors reported they have been asked by someone they met online to move from a public forum to a private conversation on a different platform.
- Being made to feel uncomfortable by an online connection does not guarantee a minor will be ready to cut off contact. Nearly one-quarter of kids stayed in contact with someone online who made them uncomfortable, with LGBTQ+ youth more than twice as likely to be in this position.
- As a first line of defense, platforms can play a significant role in educating kids and deploying features that can help safeguard their online experiences.


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