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Teenagers on Tinder – Flirting With Danger?

Teenagers on Tinder

Hands up if you think teenagers are on dating app Tinder?

In February 2014, Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen told the Guardian newspaper that 7% of the app’s users were between the ages of 13-17. Tinder has two separate communities – adult and 13-17.

Tinder has 50 million users. So more than 3 million are under 18.

That means most of them aren’t even legally allowed to have sex.

Yet Tinder is a ‘hook up’ dating app. Adults go to find local people in their area to casually meet up with, usually for one reason.

The dating app is openly available to users over the age of 13, pulling information from Facebook profiles (which is what you use to sign-up in the first place) to match young users to people in a similar age group. There is no age verification however to stop a 13 year old using the adult site.

But yes, there’s nothing wrong with trying to make friends in your area as a teenager.

However we all know that’s not what people go to Tinder for.

The swipe-left-for-no-right-for-yes function is an ego boost for young people wanting validation from the opposite sex that they are good looking.

And even if you think you can just chat, on hook-up sites, chats quickly turn explicit in nature. If one of the people talking in that type of chat is an adult, then the chat is illegal. Even though it’s ‘just a chat’.

So. What are the Risks?

Tinder is a geo location app.

That means it uses satellite technology to pinpoint your exact location in the world. And if it uses that location to match profile users, then those people know where to find each other.

Tinder uses Facebook and more recently Instagram

As with location, Tinder will also promote mutual friends, whose profiles may be more public, possibly exposing personal details like where someone goes to school. And because Tinder pulls its information from your Facebook page to populate things like first name, age and location, it’s easy to dupe the system by simply updating the Facebook page (in case you were’nt aware Facebook lets you change your age lotsa times without limit).   It’s also just recently integrated with Instagram to show you 34 pics of your potential dates account. As Instagram along with Snapchat is one of the most popular apps used by school children and teens it’s easy to see the risks.

Tinder lacks proof

Like all social networking these days; apps have no age verification ie no way to make you prove you are as old (or young) as you say you are. Tinder is no different. That might seem OK if a young person is only lying that they’re slightly older, although they’ll be exposed to more adult content. But it also allows much older adults to lie that they’re younger. This can make the teen who’s talking to them more vulnerable and less inhibited as they may believe they’re speaking to a peer.

Tinder is perfect for grooming

Tinder’s aim is to message with the ultimate aim of meeting in person or at least becoming more intimate online. As teens naturally communicate daily online, they often take for granted that someone is who they say they are.

Tinder encourages the need for affirmation

At it’s most basic level, Tinder encourages us to judge people instantly based on their looks. Young girls especially are now using the app as a confidence boost – to boast to friends about people wanting to hook up with them. This can become dangerous to their mental and physical health when they’re matched to judgmental peers, cyberbullies and adults.

Tinder has a Bad Reputation – even among adults.

Tinder is a dating app that encourages and outright promotes one night stands. As a large proportion of users are there for one reason only they may not see the humour in teenage tricks, fun or curiousity.

The risks aren’t just scaremongering.

In 2012, Skout (a social app for teenagers) had to briefly shut down its social network when three men were accused of raping children they met through the app. They reportedly pretended to be teenagers themselves.

Staying Safe on Tinder and other dating apps..

Obviously, the best tip is to stay off any app or website that allows too much anonymity, uncensored chat or encourages hook-ups that might lead to getting into dangerous situations alone.

If you do want to use Tinder to find local friends, or to date, it’s massively important to do so in the same safe way adults do:

  • They double-check people across a number of social media channels to check they are real, that they’re not lying about their age, or where they go to school/work.
  • Likewise, they will try to stick to people they can verify, either through mutual friends (which Tinder will flag up for users) or through similar schools or places they can test knowledge of.
  • Then, when it comes to meeting up, it’s safer to do so in public places, during the day, with a friend at first if possible, but ALWAYS with someone else who knows where you are, and when you should be home again.

It’s important for parents to remember that teenagers have grown up in a world that was always online. Today’s 13 year olds don’t remember life without the Internet. They’re so comfortable with it they don’t see the dangers.

Using Tinder might feel fun or risky, like sneaking into a nightclub with older teenagers or adults. But the reality is different.

Tinder has no door staff to protect your teenager or help them get home safely.

Tinder wont ‘throw people out’ for behaving inappropriately to you.

So yeah, in my opinion, Tinder is a dating site for adults, to meet other adults and should only be used by adults.

If you’d like more practical tips on how to stay safer online as well as protecting and managing your Online Reputation then grab a copy of my book.


Posted By Wayne Denner

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Wayne Denner shares his knowledge & expertise on leading tech industry blog.

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