With dating sites and apps allowing users as young as 13 to join, many teens have started to date online. Meeting through friends and people you know is often the best way to date, but if you decide you would like to go online, it’s important you know the facts to help you to stay safe.
Most teen dating apps only allow you to interact with users in your age group. Although some sites use suspicious keyword detection and different ways to check people’s identity, it’s still hard to know if the person you’re talking to is who they say are. Remember, people often make out they are something different online than who they are in real life, and they may not be the age or even the gender they say they are. It’s good to be careful about how you share your location on any social media links.
Teen dating sites
As well as adult dating sites, there are also plenty of teen-only sites too. Many have messaging and video chat functions, so it’s even more important to be aware of what you’re sharing, particularly on video chat. Try to find a site where the users are checked more carefully before being given an account, and never list your school, address or phone number or do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing.
Whether it’s video, text or photo that you’re sending, it’s best to think twice about what you share digitally. Remember, although you trust the person and may want to please them, it’s easy for information to get into the wrong hands once you have sent it out. The UK Safer Internet Centre has developed sexting resources that provide advice and guidance on sexting for young people.
Grooming is when older adults try to gain your trust to take advantage of you. This might be through making friends, offering gifts or threatening you. Dating apps and sites are frequently targeted by these types of people, so it’s important to be aware of this. If you think you might be a target of grooming, tell an adult you trust straight away or contact Childline.
Although we don’t advise meeting someone in person, if you do decide to meet face-to-face, it’s important to only go if an adult is with you.
However you choose to date digitally, it’s worth following our general tips for staying safe online.