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Internet friends

Hello Sam,

I've noticed that a lot of the time, people seem to not understand the concept of someone having an internet friend. I don't just mean someone who you talk to occasionally, I mean a friend who you trust and treat just the same as you would to an offline friend. Normally, if I mention my internet friend to an adult, they don't consider it to be a real friendship and start talking about how people online are "dodgy" and "not to be trusted".

I know that a lot of people have online friends who they'd consider close to them, even if they live far away and they've never met in person.

What sort of things should I say to an adult if they try to deny my friendship with an internet friend? What sort of things could I say to try and get them to understand that they're still a friend? Why don't many people understand that you can still be safe online while having internet friends?

I hope you can help me (and others) understand this.

Thanks!

Ask Sam

Sam

Hi there

The internet is used by all kinds of people and most of them are going to be normal, everyday people like you and me. There will always be some bad people, just like in the real world, and the internet does make it easier for those people to reach you and stay hidden - so there are some dangers. That said, it's possible to make some good friends online and it can be hard for adults to understand that.

The internet has been around for a long time, but social media is relatively new. If your parents are over 35, then they may have had little to do with the internet when they were younger. We're living in a very different time to even 20 years ago and things have changed quickly. It can be hard for some people to understand that.

Having said all of that, your parents are there to protect and look after you. That includes when you are online. There are real dangers and it's important to stay safe. Although you can make good friends online, it's important to allow your parents to look after you as well.

One of the best ways to do this is to go online with your parents - show them who you talk to and introduce them, like you might do if a real-world friend came round to your house. If you can help them to see that the people you talk to are important to you, they may be able to understand a little more.

f you'd like to learn find out more, we've got lots of advice about being online - from gaming to keeping your information safe.

Thanks

Sam

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