That’s what Alyssa did and how she ended up listed as 18. “If you’re 16 but saying you’re 19, that will put you in an uncomfortable situation should you meet up. Some 18- and 19-year-olds whom Alyssa swiped right on were overtly sexual. (Some popular dating apps, including Hinge and Happn, don’t allow anyone under 18 to join; others like Meet Me and Bumble, on the other hand, do.)Perhaps because of these risks, many teens seem to be cautious.Rachel*, 16, of New York City, lasted just an hour on Tinder.Yet on Tinder underage teens don’t need to lie about their age – children as young as 13 can get the app.
“If you’re not lying about your age, we’re not showing you 40-year-olds.” Still, teens can easily circum- vent this hurdle by lying about their age on Facebook, which is how Tinder authenticates new users (the minimum age to join Facebook is 13). According to Augusta Nissly, the program coordinator for Family Online Safety Institute, lying is one of the most dangerous things you can do when using dating apps. They allegedly pretended to be under 18 in order to lure their victims.
This past August she started interning for Bumble—the app works like Tinder, but only women are allowed to initiate conversations—which entails promoting it at her school.
She confesses her friends thought dating apps were “weird at first, but now they check Bumble like Snapchat and Instagram.” (The company says 10 percent of its users are under 18.)Among the 30-plus minors interviewed for this story, those who have tried dating apps say the main attraction is meeting someone they haven’t already known for years.
Parents who worried about their children sending “sexts” should be even more vigilant now the communication channels for such messages are open to complete strangers.
Worryingly, the single safeguard in place to stop children being contacted by paedophiles is that the app only allows teens aged 13 - 17 to be viewed by users in the same age bracket.