The concept of “Don’t judge a book by its cover” seems somewhat old fashioned these days.
As a married woman with two children, I have to confess I’m a little out of touch with the modern world of dating. In case, like me, you have minimal knowledge of the latest dating app ‘Tinder’, I thought I’d open your eyes to the world of app dating and how it is putting our kids in danger.
Don’t get me wrong – I know numerous adults who have met their soul mate via Tinder and are now happily married and I am genuinely happy for them, but I do have several reservations about the dangers Tinder presents to our kids.
For the uninitiated, it works like this: anyone can download the app from the App Store or Google Play, then Tinder pulls your photos and basic information from Facebook (age, location, mutual friends, and interests) to create a profile that the app’s other users can scroll through. You can even set location parameters to only meet people close by. You swipe left to dismiss someone and right if you’re interested; if two users both swipe right on each other’s profiles, it’s a match, and Tinder opens a chat feature between the two strangers to develop the connection and ultimately arrange to meet.
However, despite the App being rated 17+ for the following reasons as quoted: “Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity, Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor, Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes”- there is a specific section for 13 – 17 year olds. Children are therefore being encouraged by their friends to use the controversial site to enhance their “street cred” by seeing how many match-ups they can score in what I can only assume is their quest to improve their sense of self-worth and social standing. What’s worse – surveys show the Tinder app is being used by more Australian schoolkids than singles over 35!
So what’s the harm in that, you might think? Well the reality is that children have no way of knowing the real age of the person they are matching up with on Tinder. It is based on voluntary personal details drawn from the user’s Facebook account. In other words, there is no attempt at age or identification screening, anyone can easily change their Facebook age or even set up a fake Facebook account. This is a geolocation app which makes it a sexual predator’s playground, and it gives plenty of potential for dodgy people to prey on thousands of young teens.
I also hold serious concerns about the emphasis the app is placing on the concept of dating at such a young age and the superficial attitudes it is teaching our children. Unfortunately the concept of “Don’t judge a book by its cover” seems somewhat old fashioned these days, let alone the culture of kids feeling the need to share their number of hook ups or matches as though it’s a competition.
If you Google the topic you will find many articles and warnings on the subject and many of them list how to teach your children to use the app responsibly if meeting up with people they have met on Tinder. However, I think these articles are missing the point and strongly recommend that parents should be having open discussions with children about the dangers and the psychological issues surrounding this type of impersonal way of making friends, the promotion of teen promiscuity and the superficial and judgemental values it is engendering. My recommendation to parents is we should be banning the use of Tinder for school aged teens altogether!
It takes a village to raise a child and if we parents stand united on this issue we have some chance of guiding our teens through this frightening time in their and our lives.