Like many parents, her family was unaware how she was spending her time online.Becky, who lives near Exeter with her widowed mother, a childminder, says: ‘We’d check into cheap hotels, or they’d drive me somewhere and we’d have sex in the car.Young people can easily go on sites where they can connect with strangers — sometimes six or seven at one time.’Verity, 16, an A-level student from Cheshire, has been using My Space, MSN Messenger and online chat rooms to meet men for two years.She admits it’s become a round-the-clock preoccupation as she’s constantly inundated with messages.Becky’s own descent into this terrifying world began at the age of 15, when her boyfriend, to whom she lost her virginity, dumped her and made cruel taunts about her size 16 figure.
‘I’d come home from school, log on to the internet and my online boyfriends would ask how I was,’ she explained.
My mum thought I was over at my friend’s house the whole time.’It would be easy to assume that such a degrading experience would put Becky off internet ‘dating’ for ever.
But as an overweight, insecure teenager, she was desperate for the empty compliments that were showered on her in return for sexual favours — and the encounter was to mark the start of a five-year addiction to having sex with men she met on the internet.
She is believed to have jumped after one person tried to sever contact with her, because she was under-age.
Professor Andrew Phippen, who led the research, believes such early exposure to sex as a soulless transaction — where pictures of body parts are traded over the internet like currency — distorts young women’s views of sex and relationships.When the Mail went on to two of the most popular free dating websites, Plenty of Fish and OK Cupid, their true nature quickly became clear.