Go Fish: Nev Schulman Opens Up About Dangers of the Internet
Education and Careers The “Catfish” star shares his tips for online dating, internet security and networking with strangers.
Nev Schulman rose to fame after starring in “Catfish,” a documentary exploring the phenomenon of internet predators who fabricate online identities to trick unsuspecting victims into romantic relationships. He is also the host and executive producer of the follow up TV series “Catfish: The TV Show” on MTV.
Mediaplanet: What advice would you give to those looking to pursue online dating?
Nev Schulman: The trouble with online dating is that it's really easy to get distracted and carried away. It's important to set some real guidelines and boundaries for yourself before you log in. First, make sure you know what you're looking for. Is it just a hook up, or something more? Make sure you are honest and realistic about what you want. Second, make sure you have a time limit on how long you are willing to talk to somebody online before meeting up with them in person. I think two to three weeks is good. A lot of times this is how long term, long distance and often catfish relationships begin. If someone won't meet up with you inside your time frame, move on.
MP: How can people protect themselves while chatting online?
NS: It can be tough, but there are a couple simple things you can do to protect yourself both online and off. It’s always good to not use your full legal name for any user names or social media accounts. It's also a good idea to keep all of your privacy settings high so that only friends or people you approve can see your posts and pictures. You can also make your phone number private too, which is a good idea. Just keep a close eye on anybody you meet online that you or a friend of yours doesn't know in person. Do some research on them and see what comes up.
MP: What inspired you to become an inspiring figure for youth through the Leave Out Violence organization?
NS: I have had a lot of love and support in my life, as well as a lot of second chances. When I was in 5th grade I was lucky enough to discover dance as an outlet for my energy and creativity, and it totally changed my life.
I want to be able to show young people that there are amazing creative and positive ways to deal with their feelings and expose them to the possibilities of a life in the arts or entertainment. Leave Out Violence (LOVE) gives me an opportunity to teach filmmaking workshops and photo journalism to the youth in our programs as well as help raise money to continue broadening our reach and developing new programming.
MP: How can parents ensure their teenagers are practicing safe activities online?
NS: Don't let them go online. But seriously, having conversations about the realities of social media and how it can affect you or impact your future is essential. It's a tough subject, but just like practicing safe sex, we need to train ourselves and our children to be aware of what's out there and how to look out for it.
MP: Having been catfished in the past, how do you now interact with people online?
NS: I've grown up a lot since getting catfished back in 2008. Where I used to use social media as a means for romantic pursuits and procrastination, I now see the internet as an amazing tool for connecting people. I have met a lot of people via the internet who have become collaborators and good friends and hope to continue building real communities and relationships with them and others.
MP: What advancements within the industry do you feel will protect us from catfish predators in the future?
NS: It's a nice thought, but it seems very unlikely to me that internet predators, scammers or con artists are going away anytime soon. The best we can do is do a better job of educating and informing ourselves about how to avoid becoming victims of these types of situations and take the proper steps to protect ourselves.