Teens look for love in online places

love online

Source: Tumisu/Pixabay

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Monthan annual campaign focused on advocacy and education to end dating abuse before it starts. To research shows that 1 in 3 young people will be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship before reaching adulthood. With many teenage relationships happening online during this endless pandemic, it’s harder than ever for parents to guide teens through a first crush or breakup, or even get a feel for whether their relationships are unhealthy. or not. This is especially true when love can flourish in a digital space that parents have never even heard of.

Love has moved online

The pandemic has taken a lot away from teens, including real opportunities to meet and bond with peers at school, social functions, sports practices, and other in-person events that have been sporadic at best. What the pandemic hasn’t taken away, however, is teens’ very normal need to form and form relationships, especially romantic ones. According to Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center:

During adolescence, teenagers begin to build an identity and increasingly feel a need for intimacy and romantic love. These are normal developmental tasks that rely on social involvement and interaction with peers. Social isolation due to COVID can hamper development progress. Social media and online dating provide an essential way to create and learn to maintain healthy social relationships.

Digital tools, and even so-called “dating” or “dating” apps, make it easy for young people to start and maintain relationships and dating apps in general, such as adult favorites like Tinder, Hinge and Bumble, have all reported an increase in usage over the past 18 months. Believe it or not, there are apps designed specifically for 13-18 year olds looking for relationships.

Dating apps for users under 18?

Yes, you read that right. Here are some examples :

  • MyLOL is the self-proclaimed “World’s #1 Teen Network”. Her website encourages teens to “meet thousands of teens like you.” Users must be 13 to register, but Common Sense Media suggests that MyLOL should only be used by those 18 and older because “[u]Internet users often post provocative photos of themselves half-naked and engage in flirty or even sexually explicit conversations.
  • Yubo (formerly “Yellow”) describes itself as a place “where everyone can belong, feel safe, and hang out.” Its terms state that users must be at least 13 years old, but like most of these apps, it’s ridiculously easy for anyone to enter a random date of birth. Yubo has the feel of an adult dating app, as users create profiles and swipe left to pass or swipe right to “like” each other. Common Sense Media rates Yubo 17+.
  • Skout-Meet New People advertises on its landing page that users can “Date Instantly, Live”. This is often referred to as a “flirt” app for meeting and chatting with new people. Skout rates itself for ages 17 and up, but it’s easy enough for young teens to just fake their age. Once users turn 18, they are automatically moved into groups with adults. Like other apps, messages may include suggestive images and profanity.

While there are plenty of other apps specifically designed for meeting new people, like the ones featured above, any The online space where kids “hang out” – from Snapchat to Discord, group texts to Fortnite – can essentially be thought of as a “meeting” platform. That doesn’t mean parents have to know the inner workings of every app and service (an impossible task). Much more useful for your teenagers, and doable for you, is to simply ask them or they hang around, find out Who they meet, and be curious, no judgement. The good news for you is, According to the CDC, today’s teens have far less sex than previous generations. Plus, with limited in-person social opportunities, they don’t drink as much or drive as much either.

Talk to your teens about their online relationships

The bottom line is this: whether your teens are having romantic relationships online or not, it’s important that they know how to keep those relationships safe and healthy. Help them set boundaries in their relationships with friends and romantic partners with a few simple guidelines. Tell them:

  • You can turn off your devices from time to time. You don’t have to be available 24/7.
  • Just say no to inappropriate requests or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable (like a request for “nudes”, for example).
  • You don’t have to respond immediately, if ever, to every text and message.
  • Keep your usernames and passwords to yourself.
  • You should feel respected in all of your relationships, online or offline.

As we celebrate Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and Valentine’s Day, take the time to show your teens some love by talking about how to keep their love matches safe. and healthy, online and offline.

Comments are closed.