Unless you’re single, you might not be familiar with dating apps such as Tinder, where users can quickly swipe through prospective dates. But it’s likely your teenage knows all about these apps — even tho’ they’re mostly designed for adults. According to the company’s own estimates, about 7 percent of Tinder’s users are age 13 to 17.
Albeit adults use these apps both for casual hookups and for scouting out more long-term relationships, they’re risky for teenagers. For starters, albeit many of the apps aren’t intended for them, it’s effortless for savvy teenagers to get around registration-related age limitations. Secondly, adults can pose as teenagers and vice versa. Location-sharing increases the potential for a real-life meeting, less dangerous but still troubling is the intense emphasis on looks as a basis for judgment.
It’s possible that teenagers are only testing boundaries with these apps. Many are impatient to be on the same wavelength as their 20-something counterparts, and the prospect of meeting someone outside their social circles is titillating. And with so much of their social lives happening online, teenagers feel convenient using apps to meet people. But these apps are not a safe way for them to explore dating. A Virginia Tech college student allegedly abducted and killed a 13-year-old female he may have met through Kik or a teenage dating Facebook group.
If you learn your teenage is using dating apps, take the chance to talk about using social media securely and responsibly — and discuss what’s out of bounds. Keep lines of communication open, talk to them about how they treatment dating and relationships and how to create a healthy, fulfilling one — and note that these usually don’t begin with a swipe.
Below are some of the adult dating apps that teenagers are using.
Badoo. This adults-only app for online-dating-style social networking boasts more than 200 million users worldwide. The app (and the companion desktop version) identifies the location of a user by tracking his or her device’s location and then matches pictures and profiles of potentially thousands of people the user could contact in the surrounding area.
What parents need to know. Badoo is certainly not for kids, its policy requests that no photos of anyone under Legal be posted. However, content isn’t moderated, and lots of sexual pictures demonstrate up as you browse.
Hot or Not. This app began as a website over Ten years ago and has gone through lots of iterations. It presently exists as a location-based app that shows you the greatest — or most-attractive-per-the-rating-system — people nearby.
What parents need to know. A user must very first set up an account of his own, with photos — and must verify his identity with a working email address or a Facebook account and a mobile phone number. The site says it will not accept a profile unless the user is 13 or older and that users 13 to 17 can’t talk or share photos with users older than 17 — but there’s no age-verification process.
Kik. Part text-messaging app, part social network, Kik gives users the chance to talk to both friends and strangers. Kids like it because it’s free, it’s popular with their friends, and they can quickly and efficiently add cool Web content — memes, viral movies, pics, and more — to their texts without any message or character thresholds. It also contains many mini-apps, most of which aren’t sanctioned or created by Kik.
What parents need to know. Albeit not an official hookup site, Kik is known for creating hookup opportunities. Third-party apps embedded within Kik, including a Tinder-like mini-app, are difficult for parents to regulate.
MeetMe. MeetMe’s tagline, “Talk and Meet Fresh People,” says it all. Albeit not marketed as a dating app, MeetMe does have a Match feature where users can “secretly admire” others, and its large user base means fast-paced communication and ensured attention. Users can talk with whomever’s online, as well as search locally, opening the door for potential trouble.
What parents need to know. Very first and last name, age, and ZIP code are requested at registration, or you can log in using a Facebook account. The app also asks permission to use location services on your teenagers’ mobile devices, meaning they can find the closest matches wherever they go.
Skout. This flirting app permits users to sign up as a teenage or an adult. They’re then placed in the suitable peer group, where they can post to a feed, comment on others’ posts, add pictures, and talk. They’ll get notifications when other users near their geographic area join, and they can search other areas by cashing in points. They receive notifications when someone “checks” them out but must pay points to see who it is.
What parents need to know. If your teenagers are going to use a dating app, Skout is very likely the safest choice, if only because it has a teens-only section that seems to be moderated reasonably well. However, ages aren’t verified, making it effortless for a teenage to say she’s older than Eighteen and an adult to say she’s junior.
Tinder. Tinder is a photo and messaging dating app for browsing pictures of potential matches within a certain-mile radius of the user’s location.
What parents need to know. You swipe right to “like” a photo or left to “pass.” If a person whose photo you “liked” swipes “like” on your photo, too, the app permits you to message each other. Meeting up (and possibly hooking up) is pretty much the objective.