Cuffing Season in the Digital Age

As social media has become integral in our daily lives, young people have grown less resistant to the idea of dating online. If you’re between the ages of 18 to 24 you’re likely either on Tinder, have been on Tinder, or the thought has crossed your mind. Tinder isn’t new by any means. The dating app has been around since 2012 and  by Business of Apps count there are now “57 million Tinder users around the world”. Over 20 billion matches have been registered according to Tinder User Statistics. After Tinder’s immense success other dating apps followed suit including Hinge and Bumble. Other apps like Grindr and OkCupid have been around even longer. The idea of meeting up with someone we met online a lot is a lot less scary than maybe it should be. Truthfully,  as invariably demonstrated by the MTV show “Catfish: The TV Show”, is there is little to no security you’re talking to who you think you’re talking to. Most of the time catfishes are just under the guise of a fake, more attractive, photo. In some cases, people have lied about their name, relationship status, age, gender, education, job, and sexual orientation. Dating apps can be a host for all sorts of bad people from bullies to pedophiles to sex traffickers. 

Although there are plenty of people who find boyfriends, girlfriends, or hookups on apps like Tinder, it is important to understand the risks involved and know how to keep yourself safe. Here is a little safety guide to keep in mind this cuffing season:

 

1. “Use Tinder U” 

If you are attending a college or university, you can use your official school email to create a Tinder U account. The college you attend will show up verified on your profile and you can see where your potential matches go. This will tell you if someone is actually in the school they say they are and it makes it much more difficult for someone to lie about age.

 

2. “Talk to Them on Another Platform”

Before you make the step of meeting someone IRL add them on other platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook. If they aren’t posting any pictures with their face in it huge red flag. Try to find them on Instagram and learn a little more about their life. It’s a good idea to check if they’re actually single. Be aware that according to Verto Analytics 19.4% of tinder users are married and 4.8% are in a domestic partnership.

 

3. “Meet in a Public Place”

The first time you meet up with someone you met online, you should do it in a public space like a restaurant, amusement park, or movie theater. You can always invite them to a public event you’re going to like a party. Always make sure there are other people around so they can’t kidnap you or try to force you to do anything you’re not interested in. If they lied about their age or used fake pictures you can easily leave, and most importantly they do not know where you live. 

 

4. “Bring a Friend”

While it may seem awkward to have someone tag along on your first date, it’s for safety reasons and really not that weird. If the person you’re going to meet isn’t cool with you bringing a friend along it’s a good indicator that something is up and its shady.

 

This is not a fully comprehensive guide nor a law that should be written in stone. Most of the decisions you make when online dating will have to be based on your own judgment. Hopefully, these tips and information can help you make safer and smarter decisions as you search for love this fall.