Do you talk with your teenaged grandkids about dating and relationships? I was quite surprised the day my grandmother told me I should live with a man before deciding to marry him. She felt it was important to know if a couple was domestically compatible before getting married. She also told me stories about different men she had known and dated before marrying my grandfather, and tales of his courtship of her post WWII, which seemed designed as much to win over her mother as her. Dating and courtship have changed so much since her youth, with people now meeting potential partners through online platforms such as RSVP, eHarmony and, of course, Tinder.
A growing number of experts are raising concerns that children as young as 13 are accessing Tinder. Parents are being encouraged to talk with their teens about the dangers of making friends online, as well as the potential for online bullying and sharing inappropriate images and material via any app or electronic communication.
The so-called “dating app” is accessible from your mobile phone, tablet or desktop computer and requires access to the user’s Facebook account. The app then uses your Facebook profile, interests, mutual friends on Facebook, location, sex and selected age range to find “matches”. The idea is to use the app to chat and get to know potential matches before arranging to meet up in real life.
Tinder runs 2 separate communities – one for 13 – 17 year olds and one for those over 18. It seems that teens are using Tinder to compete with their friends over who has the most matches and potential “hook ups”. This, it seems, is that latest incarnation of age-old school yard popularity contests, except now kids can measure their global popularity.
Cyber safety experts warn that it is easy for adults to create fake Facebook accounts pretending to be teenagers, and from there use Tinder to groom children for online and real life interactions. These are not new concerns in the digital age, but the transitory nature of apps such as Tinder and Snapchat can make it harder for parents (and grandparents) to monitor, support and advise teens.