Tinder for Teens: What Parents Need to Know
UPDATE: Tinder is no no longer allowing users under 18 on the app.
Tinder is a FREE dating app that you can download for your phone, desktop and tablet. The app has two separate communities – one for 18+ and one for younger teens aged 13-17. When you set up a profile, Tinder automatically takes information based on your Facebook profile, including photos, date of birth and sex. Once your profile is set up, Tinder will then provide you with a list of relevant matches based on your profile, interests, mutual friends on Facebook, location, sex and selected age range. You can then either swipe right to make a match with another user, tap his/her image to view more or swipe left to continue looking through potential matches.
Why is Tinder so Popular?
The app currently has around 10 million daily users and is becoming very popular with teens. The dating app, which is free to download, is really easy to use and there is very little effort required to set up your profile. Users simply swipe through images to view potential matches, and in one click they can indicate anonymously whether they are interested in another user or not.
How Does it Work?
To join Tinder you must have a Facebook account. The app uses information which is public from your Facebook profile to create your Tinder profile. Once set up, users can then choose to widen or limit the criteria for potential matches – you can adjust location (Tinder uses location technology to find other Tinder users near you), sex (Male or Female) and age range. Users can then browse, like or dismiss any potential matches. Tinder notifies users of matches when both users like each other’s profiles. It then opens up a simple messaging option that allows users to chat, message, or share photos and videos with their matches. Tinder users aren’t notified if another user isn’t interested.
What Parents Need to Know?
Many teens use Tinder for fun and have no intentions of meeting up with a potential match. However there are some risks of using the app that parents should be aware of.
Is there an age restriction on Tinder?
Yes, like most other social networks and apps, users must be at least 13 years old. The app uses your information from Facebook including date of birth to verify your age.
Can Teens Connect with Users over 18?
Users aged between 13 and 17 can see only other Tinder users within the same age group. Users over 18 can see only other users who are also over 18. Tinder identifies age based on the date of birth given on Facebook. Parents should be aware, however, that there are fake profiles on Facebook and it is very easy for people to pretend to be someone else. It’s possible that your teen might end up matching with a person who is much older than he/she says he/she is!
Is it different from 18+ Tinder app?
Tinder for teens works in the same way the adult app does, however it separates the two communities. A person 18 years or older cannot see Tinder profiles of users aged 17 and under. Similarly, teens can view only profiles within the 13-17 age group.
Once you sign-up to Tinder, any Tinder user (within your community i.e. teens or 18+) that falls into your selected criteria can see your profile. It is a good idea to limit the amount of information you share on your profile or in one-on-one chats to ensure you avoid any potential risks. Unlike some Facebook apps, you’ll see when signing up, Tinder does not post to Facebook. By default, the app is only visible to you on Facebook. If you are unsure about app settings, simply go to your profile settings on Facebook, click on app settings and select the Tinder app.
Helpful Tip: It’s a good idea to use different profile images for your Tinder, Facebook and other social networks. This helps minimise any risk of strangers finding you online.
Tinder uses GPS/location technology to match users who are near to each other. The use of location technology can make it easy for other users to work out exactly where you are located. To ensure your teen is safe, discuss the dangers of selecting a narrow location base on Tinder i.e. narrowing the network to within a few kilometres. Remind children not to share images of themselves that give away information about where they live or the places they hang out.
With most social networks there are risks of online predators and Tinder is no different. It is a good idea to speak to your child about the risk of speaking to people he/she doesn’t know online and to caution your child about meeting someone met online in person.
Like many other apps that allow messaging between users, cyberbullying can easily occur on Tinder. Speak to your kids about this and make sure they know what to do if they experience something with which they are not comfortable.
The messaging function in the app allows users to chat, send photos or videos once they have matched. Young users should be aware of the risks of sharing images/video online. It’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security when messages are private. Young people need to remember that it’s very easy to copy digital photos, even from within private messaging conversations.
Young users may also come across content that upsets them. Talk to your kids about this risk so that they know how to deal with the situation, should it arise. Tinder has recently introduced ‘Moments’, a photo messaging function which is similar to Snapchat and allows users that are matched to send each other disappearing photos. Users should always be responsible when sharing photos of themselves online: it is easy to save disappearing photos with screengrab functions and other methods.
How to Block/Report Someone?
You can block only someone with whom you have matched. To do this, go to his/her profile, hit the icon in the top right-hand corner and select “Unmatch”. You’ll disappear from their Matches and they won’t be able to message you anymore. Click here for a step by step instructions on how to block someone on Tinder.
(Image via wikiHow)
How do you report someone on Tinder?
You can report any user by going to their profile, selecting menu and selecting report. Tinder recommends reporting users in the following circumstances:
- Asking you for money or donations
- Anyone that looks like they could be under the age of 13
- Users sending harassing or offensive messages
- Users behaving inappropriately after meeting in person
- Fraudulent profiles
- Spam or solicitation, such as attempts to sell products or services
For more information on using Tinder safely go to: gotinder.com/safety