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Unless you're single, you might not be familiar with dating apps such as Tinder, where users can quickly swipe through prospective dates.But it's likely your teen knows all about these apps -- even though they're mostly designed for adults.According to the company's own estimates, about seven percent of Tinder's users are age 13 to 17.Although adults use these apps both for casual hookups and for scouting out more long-term relationships, they're risky for teens.For starters, although many of the apps aren't intended for them, it's easy for savvy teens to get around registration-related age restrictions. Location-sharing increases the potential for a real-life meeting; less dangerous but still troubling is the heavy emphasis on looks as a basis for judgment.It's possible that teens are only testing boundaries with these apps.Many are eager to be on the same wavelength as their 20-something counterparts, and the prospect of meeting someone outside their social circle is exciting.
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. Badoo is definitely not for kids; its policy requests that no photos of anyone under 18 be posted.
However, content isn't moderated, and lots of sexual images show up as you browse.4. This app started as a website over 10 years ago and has gone through lots of iterations since.
It currently exists as a location-based app that shows you the hottest -- or most attractive per their rating system -- people nearby. Users must first set up an account of their own, with photos -- and must verify their identity with a working email address or a Facebook account and their mobile phones.
But these apps are not a safe way for them to explore dating.
If you learn your teen is using dating apps, take the opportunity to talk about using social media safely and responsibly -- and discuss what's out of bounds.