Dating apps detrimental in high school enviornment

Ann Pomeroy, Newtonian Editor-in-Chief

February is National Teen Dating Violence and Prevention Month, a campaign hosted primarily to focus on education to stop dating abuse before it has the chance to start. Given the virtual shift as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many teens and young adults are taking to dating apps in order to satisfy their need for intimacy and romantic love. However, there is a dark side of online dating and the billion-dollar question arises; Are dating apps safe or unsafe? 

According to a school-wide volunteer survey, approximately 76% of NHS students say they recall receiving advertisements for dating apps on their other social media platforms. This large push for teen usage of dating apps causes concern for many in the student body, worried of repercussions such as sex trafficking or catfishing. Catfishing is the term to describe the process of luring someone, by means of a fictional online persona, into a relationship.

“I think [dating apps] were a great idea, but people in this world are weird and it is so easy to fake who you are nowadays,” senior Michael Graf said. “You may be talking to someone who peeks your interest but on the other side is a serial killer or someone looking to kidnap you into sex trafficking.”

While many dating apps have age restrictions only allowing people above the age of 18 to use their app, there are of course ways to bypass restrictions which can cause danger for these individuals. According to MarketWatch, one-third of men and one-fifth of women say they have lied about their age online in correlation to online dating platforms. Additionally, apps such as Tinder have lowered their required age by creating separate communities for their teen users to use. According to Teen Vogue 7% of Tinder’s users are between the ages of 13 and 17, a significant chunk considering 35-44 year olds constitute 6.5%.

“No [dating app] user should be under 18, that is how you get into being sex trafficked,” sophomore Brianna Ward said. “In general [dating apps] are dumb and can get you into bad situations like with a abuser or a pedophile, literally anything bad.”

When intended for its proper use, the success rate of dating apps is undeniable. More than half of Americans, approximately 54%, say that relationships that begin on dating apps are just as successful as those that begin in person according to Pew Research Center. Additionally, 60% of participants say they have had a positive experience with dating platforms according to Brides.

“[Dating apps] can be a good way to meet people and I know that some people use them not only for dating but making friends and finding people to hang out with, especially if they are new to an area,” senior Madeline Duncan said. “I think that [dating apps] are fine, if you use them cautiously, they can be dangerous but it is potentially a good way to meet people.”

The most important objective for dating app users, despite their varying age, is to use the platforms with caution. VeryWellMind writes that interacting with strangers online can put you at risk for identity theft, online harassment, stalking and scams. The general consensus of the NHS student body is that when using online dating platforms, you must ensure your personal intentions are clear in order to bypass unwanted conflicts and situations.

“A lot of people are on [dating apps] for hookups and that’s not what they should be used for,” senior Lezlly Acevedo said. “Some good things are that there are good people who do want something like even a friendship or relationship but the bad outweighs the good.”