You know what avatars are, don't you? They are the small characters that people can create on various websites to represent themselves. Here on EmpowHer we have several you can use. Some of our avatars represent serenity (bare feet, the ocean, a flower); others represent energy, or attitude, beauty or life. Women choose one to represent themselves online.
Many social networking sites let you create avatars that look like small cartoon characters. You can choose their hair, eyes, styles, features and clothing to appear nearly any way you like. Some sites have hundreds of choices, and the avatars end up being quite cute little characters most of the time.
However, if your daughter has created an avatar for herself that is scantily clad or otherwise seems suggestive, it's something to take note of. A study that appears in the June issue of Pediatrics says that it's one indication of a girl that might be at risk for online abuse. Even without her name or her photo, that avatar suggests to an online abuser that your daughter may be able to be victimized.
"Self-presentations can change the way Internet users interact in a manner that increases the risk for online sexual advances," the researchers said.
Meaning that even if your child's avatar is simply a flight of fancy on her part, it may attract exactly the kind of person to her that you don't want.
A history of childhood abuse was also a risk factor identified in the study.
To be sure, none of the girls studied initiated contact with abusers. The study is merely to try to identify some of the factors that may put girls more at risk. Here's the full story, on CNN's health page:
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