Why is Tinder dangerous for Teens?

Emilie Burke

It's hard to imagine the life of a modern American teenager without a smartphone. According to the Pew Research Center, 95 percent of teens say they own a cell phone. Additionally, 45 percent of respondents regularly use their smartphones for a variety of purposes, including private interactions and romantic relationships.


While most dating services require a paid subscription, there are also free dating apps like Tinder. Teenagers can easily install it on their phones and use it secretly without their parents knowing.


First, what is Tinder?


Tinder is a smartphone dating app released in 2012. The app pulls up photos of users near you and asks you to decide whether you're attracted to each one based on photos alone. If yes, swipe right, if not, swipe left. If you and another person both swipe right on each other's photos, you'll be able to private message each other.


Worryingly, the only safeguard preventing pedophiles from accessing children is that the app only allows users in the same age group to view teens aged 13 to 17.


This in itself is flawed, as Tinder obtains users' ages from their Facebook profiles. "Facebook does a great job of verifying its users," a Tinder representative said. But anyone, of any age, can create a completely fake Facebook page in two minutes.


Why should parents worry about Tinder?




One of the main attractions of Tinder is that you can meet people nearby. In fact, you can adjust the location range so that only people within a mile of you are shown. When a match is made and users start messaging each other privately, the conversation quickly turns to arranging where and when to meet. Because the two users are so close geographically, teens can easily meet people they know through Tinder in a matter of minutes. No wonder the app has a reputation for easy connection.


This is all the more terrifying considering how many predators may be using Tinder to prey on minors. Tinder has even been called "a playground for men in their 20s and 30s trying to match up with younger women."


In addition to being exposed to predators, Tinder also makes teens vulnerable to cyberbullying. Because the app is so superficial, teens risk being teased for their appearance, which can have serious long-term consequences, including low self-esteem and risky behavior. One of the main attractions of the app is the provocative images people post that can expose young people to abuse.


The Dark Side of Tinder




Looking for a matching profile sounds innocent enough. Once matched, people connect, share interests, meet and start dating. However, is this exchange as innocuous as it seems, and is Tinder actually doing teens any good?


The PRC's Internet and American Life Project says 54 percent of online daters have "significant misrepresentations" in their profiles. They use fake photos, share false personal information, and lie about their age.


Some 28% of daters say they often feel unsafe and harassed when they hang up on a dating app. Additionally, 40 percent of U.S. college students interviewed about their experiences with Tinder said the app was used for hookups, not serious relationships.


Tinder does restrict access for underage users. So, how does a 17-year-old use Tinder? this is very simple. Since there is no birthday verification system on Tinder, users can lie about their age and create profiles freely. That's why Tinder is the perfect hunting ground for online predators.


In fact, your child's friend or virtual partner may be someone with a sexually related disorder. These people know how to spot kids among other Tinder users, grab their attention, and drive a meeting.


What's more, there are known cases of predators getting victims to share intimate content and then controlling young people by threatening to spread it online.


Danger also lurks in relationships between teens. They tend to use social media and dating apps to increase their social worth, improve their rankings, and determine their popularity in society.


Tinder can match your teen with a mentally healthy but carefree person they need to hook up to highlight their status. Such experiences can be very traumatic for young hearts, and can lead to low self-esteem or unhealthy sexual behavior.


How do you know if your kids are using these apps?


Before you can do anything to protect your kids from predators on dating apps, you need to find out if they are actually using virtual dating apps. But many teens who use these apps are sneaky, so if you ask them directly, they probably won't tell you the truth. So how do you know if your kids are using Tinder?


Parents should have open, frequent conversations with their teens about the apps they use on their smartphones. If possible, accounts linked to downloads of different apps should be linked to your email address, not your child's, so you can keep track of what's going on on his or her phone.


Even if you check your child's phone, chances are you've missed something. Believe it or not, there are apps that allow teens to hide media files or other apps from their parents looking at their phones.


Always check for hidden apps by looking at your child's phone and searching Google for the name of any app you don't recognize. You might find that your kids are using one of those apps that hides information from you!


If you don't like your kids meeting strangers online, but don't want to bother with unpleasant questions, parental control software might be just what you need. A virtual guardian like SpyX can help you keep an eye on your kids without invading their privacy.




How SpyX Can Help


If you're worried about your kids, SpyX can help you keep them safe online and in real life. First, we can monitor their text messages, real-time GPS, emails and social media platforms for sexual content. After spending time using teen dating apps, things like explicit messages and nude photos may end up on their phones.


Next, you can prevent your kids from downloading any potentially dangerous teen dating apps so they can't access them. You can also see at a glance which apps your kids have downloaded.


Finally, SpyX will alert you if your child signs up for a new account using their personal email address. We recommend Googling any new apps your kids ask to download so you can be sure they're safe.


Finally, you should check in with your children regularly to ensure they maintain a healthy balance between online and offline time. You can also remind your child how to connect with peers offline - such as sports, dance and drama classes or other social activities.

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