Tinder and other social media dating apps have transformed the way people find their perfect mate. Many believe that online dating is socially acceptable probably that’s because 30% of the American internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 are currently using online dating services. Around 84% of dating apps users use online dating services to find the romantic partner. Almost 43% use these apps for friendly contacts and 24% use online dating apps for sexual encounters. The sexual assaults related to online dating are on the rise. Almost 17 people in Manchester have reported being raped after using Tinder or Grinder dating app. In Britain, the assaults related to online dating increased six-times over the past few years.
Online Dating Apps Dangers for Teens
Given are the risks teens may face on the dating apps like OkCupid, Match, Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble and Happn.
The online dating services do not have any age verification process or any way to verify the authenticity of the information provided by the users. This facilitates predators and pedophiles to create accounts on dating apps with inaccurate info. Tinder does not make a match of teen and adult. However, an adult posing to be a teen can be a match. Many adults are using the online dating services to find and trap adolescents to sexually exploit them.
The dating apps are not without the risk of online-bullying. A cyber-bully can misuse your photos posted on your dating app profile to offense or make a fun of you. The female dating app users are more likely to be abused, threatened with rape, and taunted about their weight, physique and skin. The online-bullying can cause stress, depression and low self-esteem.
Anyone having your Tinder photo and first name can find you on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other online platforms using Google image search. They can get your full name and find out your location from the Facebook profile. This information can be used to harass the target anonymously. Becky Crozier suffered depression and panic attacks after being stalked by a man she met online. After three dates, she broke up but despite not revealing her residence, the dater managed to track her location and continue harassing her for months.
Sexual Assaults and Violence
The online dating related crimes are on the rise with a noticeable increase in the cases of rape, sexual assaults and violence. More than 70% of rape cases reported to the Police were from people going home with their date or taking their date to their residence on the first date. The dating apps which were meant to find the soul mate are being used for the one-night stand. The sex addicts and sex assaulters are targeting the adolescents and luring them to be in a relationship.
Catfishing and Scamming
Around 10% of profiles on dating apps are bogus and 54% of online daters give false information to someone they met online. Many hackers, scammers and cat-fishers use online dating services to victimize the adolescents for monetary gain or wicked purposes.
What are the Precautions?
There are some of the precautions you can take to minimize the risks associated with social media dating apps.
- Avoid sharing your personal information like full name, address, phone number and email address with an online stranger until you have authentic information about that person and feel comfortable sharing yours.
- Do not meet a person you only know online.
- Always meet in public areas and inform your family and friends about your meeting plans.
- Do not get into someone’s car you do not trust particularly on first hook-up.
What can parents do to protect teens from dating app dangers?
- Enable parental control app on your kids’ mobile phone devices to restrict them from installing inappropriate apps.
- Research whether a mobile app is secure for your kids or not, and check their phones for the apps you do not allow to use.
- Get your kids learn about the potential dangers of the dating apps and help them set their privacy settings on socializing and hook-up apps.
The iGeneration is risk-taker in nature and that’s what tempts them to talk to strangers and meet them in real. However, the unsupervised meet-ups can cause horrible consequences, particularly to teens. Setting rules and monitoring kids’ digital behavior can help protect them from the dangers.