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Dating websites have become a huge part of the dating culture and are practically unavoidable. No matter what you’re looking for; a boyfriend, an immediate hookup, or a friend with benefits, there’s a dating site to help get you there. Most people start dating when they’re teens, as has been true for a long time. However, whether or not teens should use online dating sites is a bit of a hot button issue. After all, there have been endless instances of people on the internet not being who they say they are. Here are some pros and cons of teens using dating sites.
Pro: It’s a Confidence Booster
Especially with apps like tinder, knowing that there are people interested in you is a big confidence booster for teens. Teenagers often struggle with self-esteem, and so it can be difficult to approach people they’re interested in if they fear rejection. On tinder, it’s as simple as swiping right, without the risk of embarrassment. If your crush swipes left on you, they’ll never know you swiped right, so you’re safe from an awkward situation.
Con: It Stunts Dating Growth
Learning to put yourself out there and accept rejection, and to sense a person’s feelings toward you, are vital life skills. If you start using dating apps too young, it eliminates the need for these skills and means you may not develop them. While teenage years may suck, they make you stronger and help you develop your tastes and handle disappointments.
Pro: They Help You Connect with Your Community
Generally, teenager’s dating options are their school, and maybe their church, neighborhood or other extracurricular activities. Dating apps can help them find people outside of these restricting factors, and connect with someone they may not have even met otherwise.
Con: Dating Someone New Can Isolate You
Social life is a huge part of high school, and it can require balancing friends and a boyfriend. If you go to school or church with your boyfriend and your friends, it’s easy to make time for both. However, if you start dating someone who doesn’t know your friends or have any connection to them because you met him on a dating site, it becomes more difficult to balance things. You can find yourself becoming isolated, or bringing him along to every gathering and driving your friends a little crazy.
Pro: Many Dating Sites Have Age Limits
One of the biggest fears surrounding teens and dating sites is the presence of older predators on the sites trying to meet up with them. Luckily, apps like tinder and many other dating sites have parameters you can set on the oldest person you are willing to match with. With tinder, if you are under 18, you cannot see any profiles of individuals over 18. This creates a great space for teens to meet one another and get involved.
Con: Many Sites Don’t Verify Your Age
It’s difficult to verify that a person is who they say they are when creating an online profile. This can be dangerous for teens, who may not be as wary of warning signs as older users. If you do use a dating site as a teen and choose to meet up with someone from it, always do so in a public place and in the daytime. Arrange to grab a coffee or tea for a first date, not dinner, and definitely not drinks.
- Don’t date online in secret. If you’re going to join online dating, preferably as a teen, especially if you are a young teen, you should tell your parents about it. But we all know that that’s unlikely. So, if you’re going to join and not tell your parents, at least talk to your friends about it, and preferably some kind of adult role model. If something goes wrong, you need someone who you can call.
- Stick to apps or sites with a designated teen section rather than full-fledged dating sites like eHarmony. You’re not looking to get married, and you are looking to avoid predators, so using apps like tinder is probably a better choice than a long compatibility survey. Especially because with tinder you can easily match with people you already know, just as a way of indicating your interest.
There are many ways to use dating sites, and whether or not teens should be on them is a hotly debated subject. But, it’s kind of common knowledge that no matter what society decides is the answer to the great teen online dating question, they’re going to do it anyway. The best you can do is to be safe and use dating apps to your advantage.
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