Technology has changed everything, including dating. Yet, that doesn’t mean teens and online dating mix. Here’s what parents need to know about teens, online dating apps, and parental control software.
Tinder: Quick Facts
- A dating app where users create profiles and swipe right to acknowledge interest and left to ignore the profile
- Users who swipe right on each other may exchange messages while those who don’t “match” can’t. Users who match can also share Instagram profiles.
- The app has an estimated 50 million users, the majority of which are male.
- Requires registration with a telephone number or Facebook profile.
Wait, Teenagers Can Go On Tinder?
Nope, in fact, teenagers aren’t allowed on Tinder at all. The service has banned anyone under the age of 18. This, of course, raises the question of why teens would be on Tinder in the first place.
While Tinder is seen as a “dating app” by most of the public, many also view it as a way to meet people in a platonic way to find those who share their interests online. It makes sense if you think about it: Tinder is designed to quickly match people based on their interests. While shared interests can be important to a romantic relationship, it’s also important to friendships, so many will use it to meet people that way.
Usually, profiles will make it clear that friendship is all they’re looking for, but that doesn’t mean people pay attention, or that there aren’t ways to have your privacy breached.
The distance of an app can also help teens who are delving into romance for the first time. Apps can feel safe, even though they have risks, and flirting with a stranger online can be seen as “practice” for doing it in real life. Online interactions have tools like blocking people, which can feel safer.
Nonetheless, it needs to be added to the block list on your parental control software, and a discussion needs to be had.
Better Strategies For Finding Friends
Part of the transition to adulthood is the reality that as you assume more responsibility and you become a more emotionally complex and thoughtful person. Some friendships will fall away, and forming new ones won’t be as easy as it was in childhood. This is also usually the time of life when people discover meeting others online tied to their interests. So show your kids there’s more than one strategy to find new friends.
- Encourage them to volunteer, join afterschool activities they’re interested in, or other real-life clubs and activities they can join in.
- Look for social opportunities in your neighborhood, so everyone can meet the neighbors.
- Develop rules about interacting with people on message boards and over social media.
- Lay out how cyberbullying and online grooming can be spotted so kids can protect themselves and report them to you.
- Don’t force it. You may not be excited your kids form friendships more easily online, but social skills take practice and it’s easier in online spaces where ending a conversation is as simple as logging off.
As teens become adults, they’ll need to work on their social skills. Parental control software can help ease them through that transition. To learn more, sign up!