Alyssa didn’t meet this man at school or the mall—she met him on Tinder, the location-based dating app that lets you swipe right for “like” and left for “pass.” Once two people swipe right on each other, they’re matched and can send messages and move the interaction from online to IRL.The company won’t reveal its exact number of users, but it did disclose that 2.5 percent are people ages 13 to 17.“I got messages saying, ‘I’m only a mile away—wanna meet up? She says she’s probably never going to use it again.
Alyssa, 17, a high school senior in Miami, was texting a new guy she thought was cute. New York magazine’s The Cut website described the Tinder crowd as “single people who hang out at bars,” and it’s become known for facilitating hookups and last-minute dates among those in their 20s and 30s.
They were setting up a date when he sent a message that shocked her. To enter a bar, however, you usually have to be 21; the age of admission to Tinder is just 13—and Alyssa’s hardly the only teen on the app.
If you do the math based on a late-2014 story in The New York Times, which reported that the app had nearly 50 million active users at the time, you’re left with well over a million users under 18 on the platform.
As a precaution, minors on Tinder can see only other minors. D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in adolescents, says, “If that’s how they’re making conversation, cut it off.” Adults who want to prey on children can lie about their age too.
Alyssa, for instance, downloaded Tinder after breaking up with a classmate; she didn’t want to go out with someone else she passed in the halls every day.