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Internet or Online Dating

Is it dangerous?

This is a hot-button issue these days! Most find, like with anything else, they must screen out the bad and recognize the good. The same people who are online can be found in bars, churches, grocery stores, organized events and living next door. There is no guarantee of safety in any dating scenario. The best protection is common sense. This must include doing a criminal background search.

According to a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a nonprofit research organization, 17 percent of online personal users said their efforts resulted in a long-term relationship or marriage. Americans spent over $500 million on online dating and personals in 2005, the second largest segment of "paid content" on the web, according to a study conducted by the Online Publishers Association and comScore Networks. This means that up to 12 million people search the Internet for romance or sexual relationships. Internet dating is the real new thing for those between the ages of 20 and 34 years old. It is very hip, very sexy and very timely. At the end of November 2004, there were 844 lifestyle and dating sites according to Hitwise, Inc. Jonathan Beller, director of dark play or stories for boys, a disturbing play about Internet dating, says, "The way we interact with each other has changed dramatically. Especially young people. They seek intimacy and friendship through the online social environment."

Online predators find online dating sites especially attractive. Such sites give them an unending supply of new targets of opportunity. A recent study by Dr. Paige Padgett of the University Of Texas Health Science Center found there is a false degree of safety assumed by women looking for love on the Internet. This exposes them to sexual violence, stalking, physical assault and fraud.

An online predator exploits vulnerable people usually for sexual or financial purposes. Experts recommend not providing information of a personal nature such as a name, password, phone number, address, credit card or Social Security number. Forty percent of the U. S. Criminal Records Agency clients who included a Social Security number check along with our criminal background check found 2 or more people using their Social Security number. While chat and instant messaging is widely used by online predators, they also appear in other places.