One of the many apps of which parents need to be aware is Tinder, which is also known as a great one night stand locator or an easy way for tweens and teens to find hook ups. Scared yet?
Tinder's description in the App Store: "Tinder finds out who likes you nearby and connects you with them if you're also interested. It's the new way to meet people around you." It also says, "Tinder is how people meet. It's like real life, but better."
* How it works: The app suggests people nearby and shows a photo of the individual. The app user viewing the photo can indicate whether they like what they see by hitting either a green heart button or red X button. Users are notified when someone clicks a heart. No notification is sent if the viewer opts for the "X."
* Users are anonymous until both like each other, at which point they can message each other.
* The App Store rates Tinder as being for ages 12+ due to "Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content or Nudity; Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor; Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes."
* The Tinder app facilitates the face to face meeting by revealing a user's location. In fact, that's one of its big selling points. Users can set the range of location, so they can narrow it down to within a mile. Parents absolutely need to know that their kid can give out their location, which can be very dangerous when you have no way of verifying the identity of the viewer.
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* Tinder is promoted as one of the best one night stand apps. For tween and teens, it is at least known as a place to find hook ups. Of course those hook ups are based on a few seconds of looking at a pic on a phone. It seems to speed up courting and make it all based on a snap, superficial judgment. I'm not saying that that doesn't happen in real life, but I am saying that it doesn't need to happen in middle school. And yup, the App Store says it good for ages 12+.
* Tinder can be a happy hunting ground for predators. Spy Parent also described the app as "the playground for males in their late 20s to 30s to try to match with younger females," according to SpyParent.net. UKnowKids.com says, "Online predators are an issue on any social media and this one will be no exception. With photos from Facebook on the site [combined with the location information] an online predator would have very little trouble determining the hang out spots of the teen they were after. "
* Even if they're not predators, some of the people on Tinder are vulgar, rude and shady. In fact, they've spawned a Tinder Creeps Facebook page. A quick scan of that page will send chills down a parent's spine. It's also offers evidence of how the app can be used for cyberbullying.
* Calling it the "worst app ever for kids," Qustodio advises parents "to block Tinder from your child’s devices immediately. Run, don’t walk!"
Tinder is one of a series of apps that is of concern for parents. Keeping up with them is really, really hard. Parents need to make an effort to know what is on their tween's phone, and no, Tinder is not the latest Ke$ha and Pitbull song. (That's "Timber.")
Talk with your kids about online safety. Do it frequently. State your expectations and your concerns. Discuss the ramifications of unsafe behavior. Trust but verify that they are using apps on their phone responsibly.
These apps are great examples of why it is important to ask your kids about their online connections "Do you know this person in real life?" And to insist that they only associate with those to whom they can answer that question with a "yes."
There are several other apps that are popular with tweens but not always safe. Check out the Tween Us guides for parents:
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