Being a parent is scary enough. But seriously, now you have to worry about dating apps for kids? Yup, it’s a thing. Teen dating apps are making it easy to make connections and find others with similar interests. And while some of these apps are built purely to foster platonic relationships, teens are using them to find love (or something they mistake for love).
We aren’t just talking about Tinder here. There are lots of dating apps for teens (many of which are designed for those 18 and over) that probably aren’t even on your radar. So, if you’re asking yourself “Is Tinder dangerous” or “What’s a Bumble”, you need to keep reading.
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Alarming Teen Dating Apps Statistics
Dating apps that have a minimum age requirement of 18 don’t publish details on how many people are using dating apps illegally. Since you can’t technically use these apps unless you’re 18, they can’t possibly know how many users are 17 and under.
But with 95 percent of teenagers having access to a smartphone, the number could be staggering.
7 Teen Dating Apps Every Parent Should Know About
Swiping left and swiping right is now part of the English lexicon. And you can thank Tinder for that. The matchmaking app created a unique system that lets users show their interest in a potential hookup by swiping right. Or they can “nope” a person by swiping left. The minimum age for Tinder is 18, but teens have been known to bypass that requirement.
This online dating app is known for empowering women by encouraging them to make the first move. For that reason, teens, particularly females, might think this app gives them more control. There’s some truth to this. After all, if a man wants to contact a woman, she needs to have shown interest in him first. Unfortunately, this can give teens a false sense of security. Once contact is initiated, men are free to chat as they please.
MeetMe isn’t a dating app, per se, but teens are sure using it that way. With MeetMe, you can find people near you who share the same interests. Unlike some other dating apps that require users to be 18 years of age or older, the minimum age requirement for MeetMe is 13. That means there are a lot of minors on the site.
Hot or Not
Extremely superficial, Hot or Not is a dating app that’s all about looks. For this reason alone, Hot or Not can be harmful to the development of teens from an emotional growth standpoint. Constantly being rated and rejected based on looks isn’t good for anyone’s self-esteem.
Yubo lets teens create a profile, browse images of other users near them, and show their appreciation (or not) by swiping left or right, kind of like Tinder. You must be 18 years of age or older to use Yubo. But teens are savvy and have ways of fudging their numbers, making Yubo popular among those under 18.
Known as one of the leading apps for finding new friends, Skout is less of a dating app and more of a place to make new friends for non-romantic purposes. Unlike other teen dating apps that require users to be 18, you can be as young as 13 to join Skout.
Aimed at users aged 13 to 19, myLOL is one of the few brands that advertises itself as a dating site for teens. The LOL in the name might be more suitable than you think, because some of the fake profiles are absolutely laughable. Unfortunately, some aren’t so obvious, making them a danger to teens.
3 Big Dangers of Teen Dating Apps
- Not everyone is who they say they are. Especially predators, who roam dating apps, posing as teens in an effort to solicit sexual images and videos, or even meet in person for something even more nefarious.
- Pictures can reveal a lot. Even ones taken in the winter in which everyone is wearing ski gear. We’re talking about metadata, bits of information that can reveal a user’s location — even if they didn’t actually tell the app where they live. Knowing where your teen is located can be harmful.
- These apps promote sex. Your teen might not be thinking about sex. They might just choose to use a teen dating site to meet friends and develop innocent relationships. But things can get out of hand quickly online. It’s easier to say whatever you want through text than it is in person, so relationships can evolve quickly.
The latter point is one that parents don’t often think about, but one that should never be overlooked.
“What we’ve done is we’ve compressed their childhood,” said Dr. Gail Dines, President and CEO of Culture Reframed and Professor Emerita of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Wheelock College. “Now, teens are meant to be sexual at a much earlier age, because those are the messages that are coming at them all the time. Especially for girls.”
How to Find Out if Your Kid is Using Dating Apps for Teens
If your teen is using free dating apps like Tinder or pretty much any online dating sites for teenagers, there’s a good chance they’re keeping it a secret.
So how do you find out? One smart solution is a parental control app like mSpy. Not only can you see which dating websites for kids they’ve visited in their browser, but you can even see what teen dating apps they have installed, look for target keywords in texts, and monitor who they’re talking to.
In this crazy world where teen dating apps have changed how young people develop relationships, it’s no wonder why parents have fallen in love with parental control apps like mSpy.