In today’s tech-savvy world, it seems like there’s an app for everything, and even the younger generation isn’t exempt from the shift towards digitizing activities that were once face-to-face. Gone are the days of nervously dialing your crush’s home phone or embarking on awkward mall outings. Instead, teen dating apps have taken center stage, especially given the recent trend of social distancing and virtual learning over the past couple of years. But just because these apps for young love exist doesn’t automatically make them safe. Spoiler alert: most of them aren’t.

Dating apps, designed to bring strangers together in the hopes of sparking a romantic connection, come with higher stakes when it involves kids. In this article, we’ll shed light on some popular apps that youngsters use to connect romantically, often referred to as teen dating apps. Additionally, we’ll explore the potential risks that parents should be aware of in this digital age.

Exploring Teen Dating Apps

A brief browse through the App Store using the keywords “teen dating apps” brings up a plethora of results, ranging from reputable to questionable. The landscape is dynamic, with new apps emerging almost overnight, emphasizing the importance of recognizing that the popular choices can shift rapidly. Among the multitude, two apps have managed to endure for a while, but it’s crucial to note that their longevity doesn’t necessarily translate to safety.


Teens Use Social Media to Find Love

Picture this as a mix of “Tinder and Snapchat” specially designed for teens. Hoop is a dating app where teenagers, starting from the age of 12, can connect with new people. It’s not just for teens; adults can join too. Hoop assures that profiles of users above 18 won’t be visible to kids, and vice versa.

The way it works is simple. Users browse through profiles that include details like age, gender, and photos. If someone catches their eye, they can initiate a conversation. If things go well, they can seamlessly continue chatting on Snapchat by requesting the person’s handle with just a tap.

Despite the app’s efforts to keep adult and child profiles separate, it’s worth noting that there’s no age verification during the sign-up process. This means that teens could potentially input an older birthdate, and adults might indicate a younger age without any checks. So, it’s essential for both parents and users to be aware of this when using Hoop.


Teens Use Social Media to Find Love

Yubo is an app that lets teens chat, play games, and meet new people through live video streams. Some teens use it as a dating app, too. Yubo is from France, but it connects teens from all over the world. However, live video chats can also be risky for teens. They might see or hear things that are not suitable for them, like sexual content or bad language. Yubo says it is only for teens, but adults can easily pretend to be younger and join the app.

How Teens Use Social Media to Find Love

Teens Use Social Media to Find Love

Social media is not just a way to stay in touch with friends, but also a place to find romance for many teens. Apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok let them show off their personality, interests, and style through their profiles, photos, and videos. Instead of waiting for someone to like them, they can be brave and “slide into their DMs.” That means sending a direct message to someone they fancy and starting a conversation.

If they hit it off, they’ll keep talking, maybe moving to texting or phone calls. On Snapchat, they’ll exchange selfies and try to keep their Snap Streak alive, which is a sign of how often they chat with each other.

How Teens Risk Their Safety on Adult Dating Apps

Risk Their Safety

Some teens may be curious or tempted to try out adult dating apps like Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble, even though they’re not allowed to use them until they’re 18. They may lie about their age and pretend to be older than they are. This can fool adults who think they’re talking to someone their own age.

This can be very risky, because many people on these apps are looking for casual sex, not a relationship. They may also be much older than the teens they match with, and try to take advantage of them. Teens should be careful and avoid these apps, because they could end up in dangerous situations.

Why Online Dating Apps Can Be Scary for Kids

A boy who is scared

Sending and receiving nudes

Dating nowadays is different from how it used to be when we were young. A lot of teens think that “sexting is the new first base” and that’s not a joke. They may feel pressured to send nudes or sext with someone they like — or someone they don’t.

Sexting can hurt a kid’s feelings, self-esteem, and reputation. But there’s another risk of sharing naked photos of kids. It can be illegal in your state, even if both kids agree to do it.

Fake profiles

Online dating means that some kids may fall in love with someone they’ve never met. But that person may not be who they say they are. That’s called catfishing. Catfishing is when someone makes up a fake identity and tricks someone into a relationship. Some people do this for fun, revenge, or bullying. Kids may be too trusting of strangers online, and that can make them easy targets.

Creepy adults

Some adults may use online dating apps to find and abuse kids. They may act like they’re kids themselves, or they may be honest about their age. Either way, they may try to groom kids online and make them do things they don’t want to. Even on apps that are meant for teens, there may be some adults who lie about their age and identity.