Online teen dating seems to be ready made for concern.
Online dating has made its way to teens, with disastrous results. In , the friend-finding and dating app Skout temporarily shut down its teen component after three teen users reported that men posing as teenagers on the app raped and sexually assaulted them. The FBI has reported multiple cases of adult men sexually exploiting minors they met on mobile apps. This is serious stuff. But when we asked teens about dating apps, they brushed off the idea that teens were using them.
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According to teens, the real way to meet romantic prospects online is through their own traditional social media accounts. It's possible that teens are only testing boundaries with these apps.
But these apps are not a safe way for them to explore dating. Keep lines of communication open; talk to them about how they approach dating and relationships and how to create a healthy, fulfilling one -- and note that these usually don't start with a swipe. This adults-only app for online-dating-style social networking boasts more than 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.
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However, content isn't moderated, and lots of sexual images show up as you browse. This app started as a website over 10 years ago and has gone through lots of iterations. It currently exists as a location-based app that shows you the hottest -- or most-attractive-per-the-rating-system -- people nearby. A user must 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.
Part text-messaging app, part social network, Kik gives users the opportunity to talk to both friends and strangers.
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It also contains many mini-apps, most of which aren't sanctioned or created by Kik. Users can chat with whomever's online, as well as search locally, opening the door for potential trouble. 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 teens' mobile devices, meaning they can find the closest matches wherever they go.
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They're then placed in the appropriate peer group, where they can post to a feed, comment on others' posts, add pictures, and chat. 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. If your teens are going to use a dating app, Skout is probably 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 easy for a teen to say she's older than 18 and an adult to say she's younger. Tinder is a photo and messaging dating app for browsing pictures of potential matches within a certain-mile radius of the user's location.
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