Remember when all of your dating life was conducted via a folded up piece of paper in 3rd period Math class?
Praying that the teacher didn’t catch you or your friends or that the note wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands.
When the fate of your social life hinged on checking yes or no.
Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
These days it’s a tad different. There’s no need for folded up paper or cootie catchers (fortune tellers) to predict your future when there’s a myriad of dating apps that can connect you with other users within moments.
Most dating apps have adopted the format of the user swiping their way through pictures and profiles of other users. Swipe right for “yes”, left for “no.” If two app users who are matched with one another both swipe right then they are connected and can chat, exchange information and meet up.
Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash
App designers are creating apps that are all-inclusive (See previous post on social media overview). You can message, chat, call, play games, etc. The more time you spend in the app, the more money they make. Kinda like a casino, the house always wins.
In addition, app designers have left things open for 3rd party mini-apps to set up shop within their apps, often without their knowledge or consent. For example, Kik has a Tinder-like mini-app inside of it.
Many adults are familiar with Tinder or have an account themselves. However, Tinder estimates that somewhere around 7% of it’s users are in the 13 to 17 age range.
Speaking of Kik, they have also gotten a lot of press since they started in 2010. While it’s not designed specifically as a dating app, it has become known for the high volume of sexual content being messaged between users.
Photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash
Some of the others that you should be aware of:
MeetMe – It’s in the name. This app allows users to chat and meet either with other users that are online or based on proximity. It requires a full name, age and zip code to register (or a Facebook account). In order to match by proximity you have to turn on the geolocation feature.
Hot or Not – This app started as a website and was responsible for spawning the rating of profile pics. They send you pic after pic of users based on your location. In order to get an account you must have a profile pic and enter an email address or Facebook account for confirmation.
Badoo – This is supposed to be an adults only site and app, so pay attention if this shows up on your kids cellphone or desktop. This uses geolocation and connects users based on proximity.
Skout – This is dubbed as a “flirting” app. Users can sign up in one of two sections, teens or adults. From there they can post, comment and chat with others in their age range. The app notifies you when someone joins in your geographical location as well as sends you notifications when someone has viewed your profile (similar to LinkedIn).
MyLOL – This is a website and app. They are the self-proclaimed #1 teen dating site/app covering the US, Canada, the UK and Australia. It allows you to set up a profile, chat and exchange info to meet up.
SpotaFriend – Similar to Hot or Not, this app allows you to set up an account after uploading photos, name, description and location to your profile. From there the app sends you photos of other users (as well as sends your profile photo to others). Swipe right to like, left to dislike. It has in-app purchases to upgrade your membership, which allows for more “super swipes”. The “super swipe” acts like purchasing a FB or Google ad where you’re profile gets top-listed and therefore viewed by more users.
The negatives are that these apps are super easy to install and begin using. For some of them it took only 30 seconds to set up a profile and begin receiving profiles from other users. And the age restrictions are easy for teens or adults to bypass.
To wrap up this section, I’ll be writing about what you can do about addressing social media with your kids and some things to look for.
Next Up: Live Streaming Apps
Thank you for these. With a 12 year old, I try to keep him off most social media anyway.
Probably for the best, although I imagine as he ages it’ll be harder to hold that line. Thanks for taking time to read!
My daughter’s friends all have phones (except for one) and we are trying to hold off as long as possible. I am not a big fan of all the dating apps available.
Yeah, there’s a lot of terrifying stuff out there. I think as long as you have a plan in place and explain it to her it will go all right. She may not like it but it’s for the best. And she’ll understand later
I was a teenager only five years ago and these things were just coming onto my radar. I dread to think what would have happened if I’d have had access to them at an earlier age – I was incredibly impulsive, trusting and not very sensible!
I used these apps sporadically as I entered my twenties and found them to be very adult indeed, not to mention the damage they could do to a self-conscious teen who’s still discovering how they fit in the world.
I can really understand why parents would be concerned about their kids using these.
Well said! I meet with a lot of adults who aren’t equipped to deal with the rejection and impulsivity. I agree, it’s terrifying to think of these tools in the hands of a budding teen 😳 Thanks so much for taking the time to read! 👏
I am terrified For when my two girls date. Excellent post
Yeah, me too for my daughter! Lord only knows what technology will look like then. But I think if we set limits now and have discussion surrounding it’ll make it go as smooth as can be expected
Thanks for following the blog and taking time to read the post!! 😃
With a husband as a police officer all I can say is danger danger danger. I’ve spent years now advising my daughter’s friends who just open up their lives on these sites and put themselves in danger on a daily basis, often meeting individuals out that they don’t even know. They don’t realize they could be meeting a 50 year old man pretending to be a 19 year old boy. It happens. And it is very scary.
Our daughter was not allowed on any of these sites. She is old enough to choose on her own now as she is 21 but has the life experience of knowing what is safe and not safe. She is still not on these sites. Real life is better!
Yeah, I have a buddy from college who works for a government law enforcement agency. I don’t even wanna know what he knows! There are plenty of horror stories out there. Good for you guys for teaching your daughter and her friends! Thanks for stopping by the blog!
Our town just did an undercover internet crimes against children and was published in the paper. All internet, social media, etc. all pedophiles looking for young girls who had NO IDEA. All published in the paper. So your article….very important. We have to keep our children safe.
Thanks so much! Yeah, I do a lot of speaking engagements and trainings on human trafficking. I haven’t even ventured into blog posts about that yet. yikes! That’s great that your town is doing so much with that! Very important stuff
That’s great you are doing that. The more we talk about these subjects the more opportunities parents have to make better choices in educating their kids and protecting their kids from predators. Although sadly, in some scenarios, education isn’t enough.