Many young people may feel pressurised to reveal intimate details about themselves on Facebook in order to live up to the expectations of their peers.

This is according to a study by online security firm McAfee, which found the social interactions and personal relationships of teenagers are increasingly influenced by the internet.

It revealed 95 per cent of 13 to 17-year-olds are active online, with four out of five engaging with social media.

However, a third of respondents said they sought romantic relationships through such services, which has resulted in 34 per cent of girls and 16 per cent of boys being exposed to explicit and unwanted attention.

Stanley Holditch, online family safety advocate at McAfee, observed many teens today are growing up faster than would normally be expected due to the pressures they face when interacting online.

He added: “We encourage parents to understand the different realities their teens are dealing with and recommend they stay informed of what their kids are doing online.”

The survey also revealed three-quarters of teenagers would not inform their parents if their online communications reach uncomfortable levels, while 46 per cent feel the internet is an influence on what their boyfriend or girlfriend expects from them in a relationship.

One respondent to the survey commented: “Everyone [on Facebook] is putting out there what they do with their boyfriends and there is some pressure to do the same,” while another observed all aspects of some people’s lives are now made public through the service.

Mr Holditch recommended parents maintain an open dialogue with their children about what they do online and utilise monitoring software and tools to block risky sites on their home computers.

It was also noted by researchers at Microsoft Research Alice Marwick and Danah Boyd in an article for Newsweek that most teenagers will ‘friend’ almost everyone they recognise from school on Facebook, making the site “less like a collection of friends and more like a town hall meeting”.

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