What Is Tinder?
Tinder is the most popular online dating application. On this platform, people are shown potential matches within a certain range of their location. Users are able to view the profiles, photos, bio, and list of interests of their potential matches and “swipe right” to like or “swipe left” or dislike. Both users must “swipe right” to like each other in order to exchange messages. Tinder is most downloaded dating application worldwide. According to a January 2023 report from Statista, Tinder totaled 64 million downloads worldwide in 2022.
Although it is rated mature (for 17+ year olds) on the App Store and Google Play, Tinder has become increasingly popular among younger teenagers.
- Predators can initiate the grooming process on minors who have lied to gain access to Tinder.
- Countless reports have shown people meeting others online who had lied in their profile and found themselves in dangerous situations, some resulting in sexual assault or death.
Many users use Tinder to meet others for casual, anonymous sex.
- People often use the app to sext or share nudes with strangers.
- Teens on the platform can be bullied and taunted—causing serious long-term consequences such as low self-esteem, eating disorders, and other dangerous behaviors.
“Catfishing” is the process of luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.
- According to several different polls, studies, and surveys, nearly half of users lie on their dating profiles and scammers commonly use these platforms to try to obtain personal information.
- Catfishing can be used for cyberbullying, pranking or getting revenge, or even as a method for online predators to exploit children.
What Is Grindr?
Grindr is very similar to Tinder. Grindr is also a location-based social dating app targeted towards members of the LGBTQ+ community. Experts report that minors frequently turn to this app to find or communicate with other LGBTQ+ people due to fewer spaces for those teens on other online sites. LGBTQ+ youth might live in fear of being ridiculed or they might not ready to be open about their sexuality. According to a December 2022 report from Statista, 16% of dating service users in the United States say they like Grindr.
Grindr does not verify identities when registering.
- Children can lie about their age to gain access to the app.
- In attempt to connect with other youth in their area, young users often specify they are in high school or reveal other identifying information.
Online predators lie about their age to communicate and connect with minors.
- Grooming tactics are commonly used to sexually exploit young people.
- Sexual assault has been linked to predators meeting young people for sex.
- According to an August 2021 article from NPR, it was found that more than 100 men across the country have faced charges to sexually assaulting or attempting to meet minors for sex on Grindr since 2015.
Other Dating Apps To Be Aware Of: Bumble, Skout, Yubo
Risks On Bumble
- This app also asks for location tracking when registering to locate potential matches in the user’s area, potentially exposing teens to predators and other dangerous users.
- Promotes judging users based on looks with swiping mechanics. Users can send a message or “compliment” while swiping through different profiles.
Risks On Skout
- This app has been known as a way to arrange random relationships and even hookups. Violence has been reported from users on the app.
- “Shake to chat” option allows the user to shake their phone, afterwards they will be connected with a random Skout user nearby the location where the phone was shaken.
- Communicating with strangers can lead to minors being exposed to inappropriate content and cyberbullying.
Risks On Yubo
- This app is targeted at kids as young as thirteen.
- Yubo offers livestreaming features—allowing anyone on the app to see live broadcasts, even send messages, without being their friend.
- Location sharing allows users to connect with people not only from afar, but also from their own communities, leaving minors vulnerable to active predators on the app.
While youth, especially teens, want to be social and meet new people, dating apps are not a suitable environment for anyone under 18 years old. Parents should have conversations with their children about the dangers of communicating with strangers online—specifically, meeting someone in-person who they do not know. The best way to avoid these risks involved with using dating or “making friends” apps is to encourage youth to socialize with peers that are their age at community events (such as afterschool activities like sports or clubs). Parents and caregivers can use parental controls to monitor children’s online activity and restrict access to these types of inappropriate apps. Although these are tools to encourage safer use, you cannot rely only on parental controls and monitoring tools to keep kids safe while online. Adults must be vigilant and involved in their child’s online life, and we encourage parents to make an effort to be familiar with all of the apps their children are using on their devices. We are here to support parents and our Apps To Be Aware Of resource is updated every year to help adults be aware of the latest trends and make informed decisions.
Want To Learn More?
Common Sense Media’s Tinder and 7 More Dating Apps Teens Are Using is a helpful article detailing current dating apps and how youth are meeting online today. Family Zone also has an article detailing 6 Teen Dating Apps Parents Need To Know About, which includes more information on apps like Skout, Yubo, and others. SafeWise’s Dangerous Apps for Kids is another valuable resource. Check out the sources listed below for additional information about the risks of dating apps.