BOSTON (CBS) – Many kids have been taught to be aware of online predators, but that’s just the beginning when it comes to internet dangers of teen girls.
Websites promoting cyber-bullying, disorders and sexualization can wreak havoc on a girl’s self esteem and health.
Like most teenage girls, Hannah and Mackenzie Black love to check their Facebook accounts or post photos. But, one day, one of Hannah’s friends was brutally attacked online.
“They were making up rumors about her, saying she was ugly and she wasn’t pretty,” said Hannah.
WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.
“Here, this beautiful, smart, intelligent, well-rounded young girl was being just sexually harassed,” said Sam Black, Hannah’s dad.
In addition to being Hannah’s dad, Sam black is an internet safety professional.
“Body image, sexualization of women and girls, cyber-bullying — all these things can play out on the Internet,” said Sam Black.
Parenting expert Michele Borba is the author of the “Big Book of Parenting Solutions.” She just released her list of top offenders, which includes the site where Hannah’s friend was bullied.
“Formspring is one of the new kinds of websites that looks like a social network that is popping up online for our daughters. It looks tame enough…but once they log on, what it actually encourages instead is to send vicious notes toward one another in an anonymous nature,” said Borba.
Formspring refused our request for an on camera interview, but in an email told us it takes safety and privacy very seriously and has developed practices for blocking inappropriate content.
That’s not the only site that should concern parents of teenage girls.
“For instance, one is called the ‘Bimbo Game.’ Breast implants. And if you earn a certain amount of points in life, you can even buy yourself a sugar daddy,” said Borba.
And then there are the websites that promote unhealthy lifestyle choices such as anorexia and bulimia.
“Specific directions on how to purge, how to purchase diet pills, and it is doing damage,” said Borba.
So how do parents keep their teens off these websites? Our experts offer this advice:
First, invest in parental control software; monitor your teen’s online history; do Google searches on their full names to see if anything comes up; and limit their time online.
“You need to step up to the plate. You need to monitor because we’re raising our children in a tough world,” said Borba.
The makers of the ‘Bimbo Game’ claim the average age of their users is 19 years old and insist their players know the difference between a game and reality.
A national survey found 85 percent of 12- and 13-year-olds have experience with cyber-bullying, with 53 percent saying they have been bullied online.