Teens On Dating Apps: How To Talk To Your Child About Online Safety
Hily took advice from a youth psychologist, online safety expert and sexual violence prevention researcher.
How many couples you know have met online? We bet a lot. Online dating is actually the most popular way people meet. It’s fast and effective — a perfect fit for today’s world. No wonder, dating apps intended for adults are now a go-to “friend-searching” tool even for teenagers. They spend more time on the Internet than ever.
Dating apps like Hily are trying to do their best to create a safe environment for people looking for love online. We give “risk score” to suspicious users, check profiles that get complaints; require real-time photos to make sure all of the users on our app are real.
However, we still need your help. That’s why Hily put together a parent’s guide on how to make your teenage kid understand that dating apps are not the best way for them to widen their social circle.
TRY TO UNDERSTAND WHY YOUR KID USES DATING APPS
Remember, for today's teens, the world is a much safer place than it was for previous generations. Kids don’t see that much harm in getting to know people online. If they can’t see the danger, they think it doesn’t exist, says Chelsea Brown, CEO & Founder of "Digital Mom Talk".
"We were taught "Don’t meet people online. Don’t give out your phone number to someone you don’t know. Don’t give your address to someone you don’t know. And NEVER get in the car with someone you’ve just met." Welcome to Uber and Lyft in today’s world. Meet a stranger online, give them your address, and take a ride in their car that you pay for."
Once parents try to understand this, it becomes easier to teach children about their online safety.
Brandon Ackroyd, Smartphone Security Expert recommends asking your teens what they are looking for on dating apps. If it’s new friends, discuss other ways kids their age can meet people. If they are not eager to talk about themselves, ask your child how other kids use the apps. This will help you learn about social norms, Brandon says. In addition, some children will open up more when talking about other people rather than themselves.
TALK ABOUT ONLINE SAFETY, NOT DATING
Make the conversation less about dating safety and more about online safety, Tania DaSilva, Child, Youth and Family Therapist, tells Hily.
“Teens tend to get much more defensive if they feel like parents are meddling in their love lives, so making it more about general online safety is a better way to approach the dating app concerns”.
In addition, a general online safety conversation will cover different online interactions: not only on dating apps but on other social media your child can use for dating, says Tania.
KEEP YOUR KID INFORMED
Ask your children not to use full names, school or home address and geotags; teach them to turn off locations in apps. Expect all their profiles set to private and ask them to be friends with people they know, says Tania.
Highlight that people and things are not always what they seem on the web. Encourage your teen not to trust everything they come across online. Show them any proves you can find, like ‘before’ and ‘after’ photo edits; discuss news stories about people on the web who pretended to be someone else.
WORD SPOKEN IS PAST RECALLING
According to Tania, it’s important to tell your kid that what they put out there we cannot pull back. We don’t know what someone will do with our information. Screenshots, retweets, photos can be taken and used in other ways. It happens daily and ruins lives.
“Stressing the permanence of their interactions will make teens think twice about what they put out there. Something that works well is letting them know their profiles can and will be viewed by many”.
Ask your teenage child, how would they feel if something they posted ruined their chances at a scholarship, a placement opportunity or something else they really wanted or worked hard for?
SET SOME GROUND RULES
Elizabeth L. Jeglic, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and sexual violence prevention researcher recommends keeping all the devices in the common area. Most of the contacts happen at night when parents go to bed.
One more advice from Tania DaSilva is to set up parental controls on all the devices till your kid turns 18. You should also be friends with them on every social media their is.
"Check-in regularly and if you need to talk to your child about what you see, make sure you are coming from a place of understanding and support and not anger and rage, remember your teen is still figuring it all out just like you are".
It’s important to make your children feel they can trust you. You should learn to trust them as well.
If you have any questions on the topic Hily is here to help. Drop us a line at email@example.com.