Research shows LGBTQ youth are 3X more likely to experience risky online interactions

Posted at 5:23 PM, Jun 07, 2023

Many parents today are concerned about what their teenagers are experiencing online.

Research just released from a nonprofit that works to end online child sexual abuse reveals the heightened risks LGBTQ+ youth face online.

Thorn CEO Julie Cordua says the research shows LGBTQ youth turn to their online communities more than the general population of youth in the U.S.

"Many of these kids may feel that they don't fully connect with folks in real life in their communities, and so they seek out new friends and new communities online," Cordua said. "And those communities are very important to them."

While online communities can be helpful in validating their identity, Cordua says LGBTQ minors are more likely to participate in risky online sexual interactions.

"So either sending self-generated child sexual abuse material, or receiving this type of material from others," Cordua said. "They also outlined that they had experienced interactions that made them feel uncomfortable. So maybe a higher rate of people that they thought were maybe adults reaching out to them in a sexual way or grooming online."

If you're a parent, guardian or caregiver, Cordua says you can help in a big way by having a safe and nurturing conversation with your kid so they know they can come to you if they ever feel uncomfortable or if something has gone wrong.

Thorn has a resource called Thorn for Parents that offers conversation starters so you can learn what your kid is experiencing online, and how he or she can be helped.

Cordua says she also hopes this research influences tech companies, policymakers, and teachers to have education campaigns so kids know what they can do like block or report somebody if they feel uncomfortable.