Alyssa, 17, a high school senior in Miami, was texting a new guy she thought was cute. New York magazine’s The Cut website described the Tinder crowd as “single people who hang out at bars,” and it’s become known for facilitating hookups and last-minute dates among those in their 20s and 30s.They were setting up a date when he sent a message that shocked her. To enter a bar, however, you usually have to be 21; the age of admission to Tinder is just 13—and Alyssa’s hardly the only teen on the app.Much like Tinder, Spotafriend allows teens to view pictures of others near them, and swipe left or right if the person is someone they would like to know better.
The 35% of teens who say they are either currently involved with a romantic partner or have ever dated, hooked up with or had a romantic relationship with someone will serve as the focus of the remainder of this report.
Facebook was mentioned 46 times in the open-ended responses to this question, while the second-most popular (Instagram) was cited only eight times. I still talk to her, but we’re not together.” And for some teens, online relationships, like offline ones, can be uncomfortable and devolve into creepy situations. Older teens ages 15 to 17 are more likely than younger teens to search for information online about current or prospective romantic partners, with 35% of older teens searching, while 16% of younger teens do so.
Twitter, Kik and online gaming also were mentioned in a small number of responses, as were a range of other social media, video and chat sites (Hot or Not, IMVU, My Space, Omegle, Meet Me and Snap Chat each were mentioned once in these responses). One high school girl related the experience of one of her friends: High School Girl: “She met this guy through Facebook and … But he said he lived in Florida and then last weekend, she got a ring in the mail from him. Similarly, older teens are more likely than younger ones to search for information online about a past romantic partner – while 17% of 15- to 17-year-olds have searched for information about someone they dated or hooked up with in the past, just 7% of all 13- to 14-year-olds have done so.
“We want people to be safe,” says Rosette Pambakian, Tinder’s vice president of global communica- tions and branding. In 2012 the meeting app Skout temporarily suspended its under-18 section, which had safeguards similar to Tinder’s, after adult men were accused of raping and sexually assaulting minors in three separate incidents.
“If you’re not lying about your age, we’re not showing you 40-year-olds.” Still, teens can easily circum- vent this hurdle by lying about their age on Facebook, which is how Tinder authenticates new users (the minimum age to join Facebook is 13). According to Augusta Nissly, the program coordinator for Family Online Safety Institute, lying is one of the most dangerous things you can do when using dating apps. They allegedly pretended to be under 18 in order to lure their victims.
Overall, 4% of all teens ages 13 to 14 have dated someone they met online, compared with 11% of all teens ages 15 to 17. A little more than one quarter (28%) of teens have searched for information online about someone they were currently dating or interested in.