Online dating & young people... should I be worried?

It's normal for the majority of teens to meet and chat to others online, but using online dating services can pose a risk to them. Ensure your children know they can get help at any time and find out what you can do to support them.

Concerned about a child/young person?

If you're worried about your child and think something is not quite right, it's best to be on the safe side and find out more.

Information & Advice:

Why do children use online dating apps?

Teenager's spend most of their days online, and naturally they feel comfortable using the internet to meet other people. Online dating services give young people to opportunity to meet and flirt with people who are outside their social circle - a bit less awks. This opportunity can be exciting to young people, especially at a time where they are exploring and understanding sex and relationships.

Should I be worried about it?

Online dating services are mostly aimed and designed for adults, but there are some that are aimed at teens. Nonetheless, these present risks to young people if they choose to use them. Although young people are exploring dating, these online dating services are not a good idea.
The offenders use the internet to look for young people to target and harm, and online dating sites and apps are used since they know young people use them to look for love, to flirt or to make friends. These offenders may pretend to be the same age or trick them into thinking they're trustworthy.
Many online dating services use location-sharing technology to show people nearby, this does increase the potential for a 'face-to-face' meeting, and although this feature is exciting to young people, they should never be encouraged to meet up with anybody they've only met online.
Another feature of online dating apps and websites is to share photos. The user is required to choose their best photo to 'advertise' themselves to the other users. This can result in young people worrying about their images, how they don't look like the celebs they see on social media and this can all affect their self-esteem and lead them to become critical of the way they look.

Remember...

It's important to remember, that as a parent, you have not failed. It's hard to notice this sort of thing happening as children can be secretive about what they do online. Just remember to be there to support your child, and not let other emotions such as anger affect the support and advice your child needs.

Get Support:

Internet Matters give information, advice and support to keep children safe online.

> Learn more

Childline are available to give support through their councillors, they also have support boards and host loads of information and advice.

> Learn more

NSPCC are the 'UK's Children's Charity' providing support for children going through abuse and they have lots of advice for keeping children safe online.

> Learn more

CEOP is a command of the UK's National Crime Agency, and is tasked to work both nationally and internationally to bring online child sex offenders, including those involved in the production, distribution and viewing of child abuse material, to the UK courts.

> Learn more

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