Dating apps: they're a great way to connect with potential dates that you might not otherwise meet on your own, expanding your pool of potential dates and increasing the odds that you'll find that special someone to share your life with.
They also pose a unique set of dangers.
In St. Louis, a dating app was used to set the stage for a deadly shooting. After meeting a man on a dating app and spending some time with him, a Glasgow woman suffered a vicious attack during an argument. Other dating app users have been victims of catfishing and other scams.
in support of #SaferInternetDay, let’s see just how safe are dating apps are:
Challenges with Dating Apps
Dating apps don’t have the same safety cushion as, say, meeting someone in the normal course of your day — at work, at school, or through friends, for example. You may only get to know someone via text or as you meet, generally in a romantic capacity.
You might not have the chance to ask friends about them or to learn more about them before you let things get more serious. Not only that, dating apps pose a host of challenges to their users:
- More than $320 million was lost to catfishers in 2018 — and significant amounts continue to be lost to these predators.
- As many as 22% of Tinder users are in a committed romantic relationship with someone else while using the app.
- 53% of people lie in their online dating profiles. While these lies primarily concern the little details that most people fudge anyway — height, weight, or income — people who are willing to lie on their profiles are often willing to lie about other aspects of their relationships.
- Some states are safer than others: while New England has fairly good outcomes for online dating, users in Alaska should be much more cautious about their dating app use.
The Newest Safety Features
As the use of dating apps continues to increase — 1/3 of people between 18 and 44 have used a dating app to try to meet someone — the creators of those apps are cracking down to improve the safety of their users, offering a better experience for everyone.
Tinder is launching an AI program that will help determine if users' profile photos are real in an effort to cut down on the likelihood of catfishing, while also rolling out a panic button that will offer users the ability to quickly summon help if needed. This new attention to safety helps protect all users, as does continuing public awareness of how to stay safe while using dating apps.
Can You Keep Yourself Safe Using Online Dating Apps?
When using online dating apps, always follow a few basic safety precautions to help protect yourself. Make sure you:
- Take the time to research someone before meeting them in person. Check out their social media profiles and browse through some of the things they like.
- Always meet for the first time in a public place. Try to genuinely get to know someone over the course of several meetings or dates — not just text and phone conversations, where it's easy to hide true intent — instead of rushing off to spend time alone together.
- Let someone know where you're going and when you plan to be back. If you don't check in on time, have that person prepared to take action.
- Never send money to someone you've only met online, even if you feel that you genuinely "know" them.
Online dating sites could be the perfect place to find true love — but it's critical that you take steps to protect yourself. Dating apps come with excellent opportunities, but they can also open the door to predators — and even Tinder's newest safety measures haven't quite extinguished those risks to your personal safety. Keeping those considerations in mind whenever you use these apps can help provide a greater level of protection when you're out on a date.