Meeting online contacts in real life among adolescents: The predictive role of psychosocial wellbeing and internet-specific parenting

Annette Van den Heuvel*, Regina J. J. M. van den Eijnden, Antonius J. van Rooij, Dike van de Mheen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Meeting online contacts in real life (IRL) has been associated with several risks, particularly for adolescents. This study aims to gain more insight into the prevalence of adolescents real life meetings with online contacts and the prevalence of telling parents about these real life meetings. In addition, the predictive role of adolescents' psychosocial wellbeing and parents' internet-specific parenting on meeting online contacts IRL was examined, and the predictive role of internet-specific parenting on parental knowledge about these meetings. Longitudinal data were collected among 1796 adolescents who participated in two measurements of the Dutch Monitor Internet and Youth. The results show that about 17% of the adolescents had real life encounters with online contacts and that about 30% of the parents of these youngsters was not aware about it. Low self-esteem increased the probability of future meetings with online contacts, whereas feelings of loneliness reduced this chance. Moreover, parental rules about the content of internet use and parental reactions to excessive internet use, may help to prevent future meetings with online contacts in real life. Parents' awareness about these encounters was only cross-sectionally positively related to frequency and high quality of parent-child communication about internet. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-472
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Internet
  • Adolescents
  • Online contacts
  • Psychosocial well-being
  • Parenting
  • Risks
  • AGE

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