Tinder Dating Among Teens: When Swipe-Right Culture Goes to High School – Part 2

Terry downloaded Tinder when she was 17 and it was legal to be on the platform. She was looking to have “random, meaningless sex” after a bad breakup. Like the others, Terry, who is now 22, says that all of her friends were on the app. Unlike them, she listed her real age and ultimately regretted it. Before she abandoned the apps, she had run-ins with men who lied about their age or who wanted to pick her up and take her to an undisclosed location.

“I had horrible experiences,” she says. “I had a lot of guys that wanted to like, pick me up, and meet me in a place that was secluded, and didn’t understand why that was weird or just expected sex right off the bat.”

Terry’s most concerning experiences involved older guys who said they were 25 or 26 and listed a different age in their bio. “Like, why don’t you just put your real age?” she says. “It’s really weird. There are some creeps on there.”

Although there’s no public statistic on fake Tinder profiles, avoiding Tinder scams and spotting fake people on the app is fundamental to the experience of using itAdults know this. Teens don’t. Many see a fun app for meeting people or hooking up. And it’s easy to feel concerned about these minors posing as legal adults to get on a platform that makes it so easy to create a profile — real or fake.

Amanda Rose, a 38-year-old mom and professional matchmaker from New York, has two teenage boys, 15 and 17, and concerns about the way that social media and tech has changed dating. To her knowledge, her kids haven’t dated anyone they met online and they don’t use Tinder (she has the passwords to all of her kids’ phones and social media accounts.) But she’s also had many talks with them about the problem with tech and her concerns.

“We’ve had the talk that the person they are talking to might be posting pictures that are not really them,” she says. “It could be someone fake. You have to be really careful and mindful about who you interact with online.”

Amanda’s also concerned about how much teenagers — and the adult clients with whom she works — resort to the digital in order to repair their relationships or remain connected to the world.

“I’ve noticed, even with my clients, that people go to texting. They don’t pick up the phone and call someone. I talk to my kids about that: about how important it is to actually, pick up the phone and not hide behind a phone or a computer screen,” she says. “Because that’s where you build relationships.”

If you just stay behind text messages, Amanda says, you’re not going to build stronger relationships. Even when her oldest son talks about issues with his girlfriend, she tells him: “Don’t text her. You need to step outside if you don’t want anyone to hear the conversation and pick up the phone and call her.”

Still, certain teenagers who ventured onto Tinder have positive stories. Katie, who asked to be referred to by her first name only for privacy, went to an all-girls Catholic school and had a conservative family. She used the app as a way to figure out her sexual identity and credits it for helping her navigate a new and burgeoning sense of self in a way that didn’t leave her open to hostile teenagers, school staff, or disapproving family members.

“I was not out. I was very, very in the closet,” she says. “It was one of my first ever moments of letting myself kind of even acknowledge that I was bisexual. It felt very safe and private.”

On Tinder, Katie says she saw women from her high school looking for other women. Seeing this helped her feel less alone.

“I was 16 and had no idea that they felt that way,” she says. “They didn’t know I felt that way.”

Katie downloaded Tinder at a volleyball tournament. She was with a bunch of friends. They were all women and all straight.

“I was dealing with having queer feelings and not having anyone to talk to about it. I didn’t feel like I could actually talk to anybody, even my close friends about it at that point. So, I kind of used it more to just figure out what being gay is like, I guess.”

Her experience was freeing. “It didn’t feel threatening to flirt with women, and just figure myself out in a way that involved different people without having to feel like I exposed myself to people who would be unfriendly toward me,” she says.

Katie’s story is both unique and not unique. The trend of queer people using dating apps to enter relationships is well-known. Twice as many LGBTQ+ singles use dating apps than heterosexual people. About half of LGBTQ+ singles have dated someone they met online; 70 percent of queer relationships have begun online. That Katie got on the app when she was 16 is maybe not typical, but she found her first girlfriend on the app, and within a few years, came out to her family. Being able to safely explore her bisexuality in an otherwise hostile environment without coming out publicly until she was ready, Katie says, was “lifesaving.”

To find love and acceptance, one must put themselves out there. For teenagers, those whose lives are basically based around understanding and seeking acceptance, this can be an especially daunting prospect — especially so in an age when digital communication is the norm. So why not jump on Tinder, which requires one-minute of setup to help them sit on the edge of  — or dive directly into — the dating pool?

“There’s that whole thing about not looking like you’re trying, right? Tinder is the lowest effort dating platform, in my opinion. Which also makes it harder to meet people,” says Jenna. “But it doesn’t look like you’re trying hard. All of the other ones don’t seem like that.”

Still, while stories like Jenna’s and Katie’s highlight how the app can provide a useful outlet of self-acceptance, neither young woman used the platform as intended. As Tinder seems to suggest by it’s tagline, “Single is a terrible thing to waste,” the app is for those looking for sex. Fostering connections may be more bug than feature. It’s not reassuring that the best stories about teens using the platform tend to emerge from edge-case scenarios, not from the typical function of the app, which is designed as a sexual outlet, but may also condition its user to accepting certain types of sexual experiences.

“You don’t want industry to be the decider of teen sexuality,” says Dines. “Why would you leave it to a profit-based industry?”

That’s a profound question and not one teens are likely to dwell on. Teens will continue to experiment because, well, that’s what teens do. And if they don’t receive guidance from adults in their lives, their early experiences on platforms like Tinder will shape their approach to adult relationships going forward. More than anything, that may be the hazard teens face on Tinder: the morphing of their own expectations.

“You don’t want to leave it to the [profiteers],” says Dines. “We want more for our kids than that, no matter their sexuality.”

 

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Tinder Dating Among Teens: When Swipe-Right Culture Goes to High School – Part 1

Jenna created a Tinder profile when she was 17. Using the dating app’s toggling age form, she chose “18,” the youngest available option, and wrote “actually 17” on her profile. This was common practice at the New Jersey high school where she was a senior and her best way into a swipe-right culture that promised access to intimacy and acceptance. Jenna was a teenager. She had never been kissed. She wasn’t very popular. This was a no-brainer.

“Why did I do it?  So… my friends had boyfriends. And I didn’t. I mean, no one at my school seems like worth it. And it’s like, an easier way to find other people in the area. I was also considering hooking up with people,” says Jenna, who is now 19. “Was it useful? That’s debatable.”

Jenna joined Tinder in 2016, shortly after the company announced that the platform would be excluding the 13- to 17-year-olds it had previously welcomed. Though Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen had defended providing young people with access, saying it was a way to make friends, the company caved to public pressure. It was clear, after all, that teens weren’t just using Tinder to find friends. For many, it had become a place to find random hookups and validation. For others, it had become a safe place to experiment with their sexuality. Perhaps for most, it offered a rough introduction into the adult sexual economy.

“I got close to hooking up with one person, and then I backed out real hardcore,” recalls Jenna. ”He wanted to get a hotel. I was like, ‘My guy, I don’t have money, I can’t pay for a hotel.’”

I downloaded Tinder in April of 2019 to search for underage users on the platform for this story (I’ve changed the names of the users I interview for the sake of their privacy). The process of downloading the dating app took me less than a minute. Tinder didn’t ask for my age or require me to link to my Facebook or other existing social media accounts. I just had to verify my email address. For my first profile, I used an actual photo of myself as well as my real name and actual age. Thinking I might find more under-18s if I posed as an 18-year-old, I deleted my account and made a new one with the same picture, same name, and a different email in the same span of time. I also pressed Tinder on their age verification standards, but they did not respond to requests for comment. (The app allows users to report on people not using it properly, but that seems to be the extent of the monitoring.)

Launched in 2012, Tinder has long been the most popular dating app in the world. Used in about 200 countries, it boasts 10 million active daily users and 50 million total users. At the time Tinder announced new age restrictions, three percent of its daily user base was underage, amounting to some 1.5 million minors. But many didn’t leave. They pretended to be 18 and stuck around for the thrill of it. Scrolling through the app, dozens of profiles surface of users who are ostensibly 20 with “actually 18” written in their profiles, which suggests these users signed up at 16 and aged up with the app rather than creating new profiles. For better and mostly worse, the teens are still there.

How many underage kids are on Tinder? It’s impossible to say, but according to research by Monica Anderson at the PEW Research Center, 95 percent of teenagers have a smartphone. More than a few is a safe guess.

Dr. Gail Dines, President and CEO of Culture Reframed and Professor Emerita of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Wheelock College, argues that teens retaining access to Tinder exacerbates a major cultural issue. Dines studies the way that the easy and ubiquitous access to pornography on the Internet affects romantic dating culture and argues that Tinder and other such dating apps have changed the teenage years by providing teens with a reason to obsess over their sexual presentation.

“What we’ve done is we’ve compressed their childhood,” says Dines. “Now, teens are meant to be sexual at a much earlier age, because those are the messages that are coming at them all the time. Especially for girls.”

The key message coming at them, Dines said, is that they’re either “fuckable” or invisible. She explains that this incentivizes teenagers to try to make themselves “fuckable in order to be visible” and that this dynamic effects children of younger and younger ages. Young girls have long been sexualized. Now, they are self-sexualizing to an increasing degree. And Tinder gives them a platform on which to practice being objectified and objectifying each other in lieu of developing strong social bonds.

“You cannot replace social media with actually being in a group,” Dines says. “The things you learn from being in a group, in real time, are not replaceable with social media. How to act, how to get cues from people, what works and doesn’t work for you — all of those things.”

Adolescence, Dines adds, is a time for experimentation on every level. It’s a big world out there and teenagers are trying to locate themselves in it. By moving away from the physical, teens are missing out on a very crucial experience.

 

 

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Phicklephilly – Tinder Moments

Here’s another collection of interesting online dating profiles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tinder Is A Modern Day Whorehouse. I Said It.

Back when I was too small to see over the kitchen counter, I would often imagine the “Wild West” as an adventurous place, people traveling in covered wagons, panning for gold, building cities where no cities ever stood before.

But I didn’t daydream about whorehouses. Maybe I should have? They’ve been a part of human culture and countless civilizations since essentially forever. I’m sure T-Rex even had his go-to spots for his particular reptilian tastes. They’re not abnormal or historically rare, you just don’t like them.

The notion that a man’s sexual needs are no different or less important than his need for food has always been a business opportunity. It’s not called the world’s oldest sin, but the world’s oldest profession. Until we decided prostitution was somehow “wrong” and created laws and religious fist-shakes to shut it down. Because that would stop it, right?

I believe sex work should be legal. Not just legal, but strongly regulated. The health and safety of sex workers and their clients should be no less paramount than the health and safety of anyone else in a physically demanding job. We pay men millions of dollars to slam their bodies together, but we make them wear football helmets when they do it.

If sex work was legal, we could stop resting on an overstuffed sofa of “morals” that allows us some kind of mental comfort and superiority. Sex won’t be a normal, natural part of life if we say it shouldn’t be, right? That’ll change human behavior, right? If we could acknowledge that men pay women for sex anyway (and women pay men, too), then maybe the hungry men I deal with on a daily basis can get the fuck off Tinder,* where they think they can have anything they want for free.

Take this fine young man for example. He is a stranger. I’ve never met him before. That first message is the first thing I said to him. He only waited 22 words to mention his erection. I blocked him instantly and went on about my day, but the exchange bothered me, and I had trouble putting it out of my head. Maybe because it wasn’t the first, and I’m assuming (though hoping otherwise) that it won’t be the last.

Why did he think that was okay? What made him think that he could speak to a woman he didn’t know like that? What made him think he could impose upon her to sate his sexual need in that moment? What makes him not an exception, but one of innumerable men that think they’re being “forward,” when really they’re being inappropriate? Maybe it’s because Tinder is a modern day whorehouse.

Online dating apps are where (some) men go to get whatever sexual satisfaction they want. And it’s where (some) women go to provide it. Sound familiar? I’m basing this assumption on the fact that at some point this guy had his behavior rewarded, otherwise why try again? He was way too casual about it to be a newbie. The first guy to ever walk into a room and ask to pay for sex was either thrown out on his ass, or accepted as a customer. My money is on the latter.

I’ve already written on the topic of ethical non-monogamy. Married men seeking out more and different sex than they can have at home is also an activity best engaged in in a place where both parties enter for the same transaction. I use dating apps so that I can stop dating. Married men haven’t had to date in years. Call me crazy, but Ashley Madison was a brilliant idea. Keep all the sexually stifled marrieds in one pen, please, there’s no reason to have them mingle with the rest of the herd.

The specimen above however was really interesting to me. Single and busy, I totally get that. Maintaining a relationship or marriage at home when you travel more often than not would certainly be a struggle. But this guy wants contact. The company of a woman. In small doses. Do you see the goddamn theme here?

We are sitting ducks. Single women on dating apps are the most target rich environment on earth. Solicit, offend, entice, whatever her response, there are so many more where she came from. You can what do you want, consequence and debt-free. Anonymity, abundance, affordability. In ye olde days, you got your ass kicked if you left without paying. Now, you’re free to do and say what you like, to who you like, and nothing bad will happen to you. That’s where they get the nerve. That’s why men think they can open a conversation by asking us to text them through their morning masturbation. They need a different place to go. I did not sign up for this shit.

Some will argue, “But they do pay! Dating apps aren’t always free.” Fuck you and the delusion you rode in on. These men are paying more for Citibikes than what could mildly be described as phone sex. And I’m paying, too. I’m paying to be a maybe. Maybe she’ll sext me while I jack off. Maybe she’ll let me fuck her once a month when I’m home. And then say nothing, ask nothing, expect nothing at all. Least of all respect. And hey, if she won’t there are millions, literally millions more where she came from.

Do I have a solution to all of this? No. I simply crave honesty. Society lied to itself when it criminalized prostitution. It created a fantasy in its head and I’m old enough to see over the kitchen counter now. Wake up. Sex is free, but sometimes it shouldn’t be. If you’re using no more than a swipe of your thumb to instantly acquire it, that’s one of those times. We’re not restaurants you flip through on Seamless, we’re human beings. And single, female human beings looking for single, male human beings that conduct themselves with a modicum of respect do not deserve to be made to feel like they’re working in a profession they did not choose.

Let’s all stop imagining they’re “dating” apps, or just give me a place to interact with single men in a way that won’t make me want to send them a bill.

  • I use Tinder as a general reference to most dating apps. Much the same way you don’t call it a tissue, you call it a Kleenex.

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Special Report: Teens accused in plot to lure men in on Tinder and then rob them at gunpoint

Tinder stressed in its guidelines the importance of spending time talking on the app and meeting in a populated space.

Five teens have been arrested for a string of armed robberies against men who believed they were meeting up with a woman they had met on Tinder, police said.

Bryan Gonzalez, 19; Jonathan Jimenez, 18; Lesly Portillo, 18; Yarida Villareal, 19; and an unidentified 15-year-old male were arrested separately in San Jose, California. Police say they were booked on multiple charges, including robbery, carjacking, auto theft and hit and run.

The group created fake profiles on the Tinder dating app under the names Becky or Victoria, police said in a news release. They would communicate with men on the app and convince them to meet up.

“The times and locations were usually in the late evening hours on secluded streets near a park,” the release said.

Instead of Becky or Victoria, police said, several masked suspects would meet the victims and beat them, rob them, and carjack them at gunpoint.

The adult suspects are being held in Santa Clara County Jail and the minor was booked into Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Amanda Estantino of the San Jose Police Department’s Robbery Unit at 408-277-4166.

Tinder’s safety guidelines encourage users to take precautions when meeting people offline.

“Bad actors often push people to communicate off the platform immediately,” the company said. “Meet for the first time in a populated, public place — never in a private or remote location, and never at your home or apartment. If your date pressures you, end the date and leave at once.”

 

 

Phicklephilly – Tinder Moments

Here is another bunch of interesting online dating profiles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Kimiko – Chapter 2 – Finally Connected

Kimiko had given me her number very quickly in our first conversation, so that was good. But this one takes a little time to get off the ground. After our brief connection, I text her just to make contact off the site

 

Monday Night
Me: Hey there. It’s Charles.

K: Hi Charles, Nice to meet you here.

Me: Me too. When would you be available to come to the city?

K: I am off this Saturday, does it work for you?

Me: I should be available after 5.

K: Ok.

Me: Sounds good! I’ll pick a spot we can meet. Do you have any dietary concerns? Or any passions about food?

K: No. All good.

Me: Cool. Do you have a food preference? Something you really like?

 

Tuesday Morning

K: Hi. Good Morning. Charles, sorry for the late reply. I went to bed right after I texted you. To me, I like all kind of food except Mexican, I mean I could have it but not a big fan.

Me: Ok. No worries! Hope you got some rest. I’ll find a place we can meet.

K: Sure thank you. Have a nice day.

Me: You too!

 

Wednesday

Cherie texted me that she was coming down Sunday night, so being the little weasel I’ve become, I had to reach out to Kimiko and see if I could take her out on Sunday.

Me: What about Sunday? Can you do after 4pm?

K: This Sunday I’m not sure.

Me: Why not?

K: I have my boys coming home.

Me: Ok. What about during the week? I work a lot.

K: Understand, so if this Saturday is not good for you, we can find another day next week.

Me: Sounds good. I really want to meet you.

K: Ok. We can plan for next week.

Me: Yes. Maybe we can chat on the phone before that. What type of work do you do?

K: I work in retail and also taking a financial and insurance course now. I work a lot too.

Me: Oh, very good. I want to meet you. We’ll figure it out. Work is good. We could chat on the phone at some point if you like.

K: Maybe tonight?

Me: Ok. I’ll call you after 9.

K: Ok.

I have been working so much lately I completely forget to call her. I don’t want her to think I’m a flake. 

Thursday

Me: Sorry about last night I was chatting with my daughter and forgot. Hope you’re having a good day.

K: No problem.

Me: Can I see you this Saturday or Sunday?

K: Hi! May I know who is it… My phone was broken and just got a new phone… Haven’t updated all the contacts yet.

Me: (Sends pic) Charles from Bumble. We matched.

K: Oh hi! How are you? Sorry about that. I broke my phone! Sunday should be fine.

Me: Awesome! Can I meet you in the city after 4?

K: Where do you live? Sunday is usually very hard to find a parking spot in the city.

Me: I’m in Rittenhouse. You could come over on the Patco train.

K: Is that where you live?

Me. Yes. Rittenhouse.

K: I’ll try. I like to drive because sometimes I feel more comfortable when I go home at night by myself. Maybe I could find parking somewhere.

Me: I’ll pay for your parking. Sound good?

K: It’s alright. I think the most important thing is where to find a parking spot.

Me: Ok. Looking forward to meeting you.

K: Sure.

Doesn’t sound promising.

 

Saturday

Me: Still good for tomorrow after 4?

K: Yes.

Me: Great!

Later that night…

Me: Yay I’m going to meet you tomorrow! 5pm Devil’s Alley (I send her location)

K: Ok

Me: Looking forward to meeting you Kimiko. (smiley face)

K: (smiley face) Likewise.

 

So hopefully it’s on.

 

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