Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Aug. 4, 2014

A College Student's Perspective on Tinder

2014 Summer Intern, Family Online Safety Institute
I became increasingly skeptical as my friend explained the supposed “dating” app, Tinder, while we ate dinner together one night. “So you swipe to the right if you like the pictures of the potential suitor, and swipe to the left if you don’t? And if they swipe to the right for you as well, it’s a match? Then what?” The whole concept seemed extremely superficial to me.

Looking further into app, I discovered that all users must set up an account through their Facebook, which allows them to choose up to six pictures to feature on their Tinder profile. By synching these accounts users can also see if they share mutual friends or if they have similar “likes”. Preferences are then set to find matches based on your location. The proximity of your matches can range from as close to one to as far as 100 miles away. You can also set the age range of potential matches from 18-50. I wondered what would happen if there was continued harassment from a user, and my friend assured me that there was a way to block and report such matches.

Tinder screenshotShe showed me that Tinder recently added a feature that enables users to share “moments” together. This is similar to the app Snapchat, where Tinder users can post additional photos for an allotted period of time. When you are matched with a person, there is an option to directly message your suitor, but there is no requirement to conduct such interaction. It seems to me that the majority of people I have spoken with don’t seem to take the app seriously. It’s just a “game”, or it’s used “for fun”. Tinder could be used as a sort of self-esteem booster if you do get matched, but could also hurt if you do not.

I looked at my friend in amazement as I continued to eat and she continued to “play” the Tinder game. Originally created as a way for people who were located near each other to “hook up”, the concept of what I understood as dating seemed to be irrelevant to Tinder users. Is this what dating has now come to? Is it now simply a game on your smartphone in which there is no face-to-face interaction or genuine communication?

Don’t get me wrong, some of my friends have had positive outcomes using Tinder. I have seen long-term relationships generated solely because of the app. It has introduced people that otherwise would have never met. Tinder has also grown in popularity internationally. One of my friends uses the app while traveling abroad as a way to meet new people. That being said, I have also seen negative outcomes stem from the app. I have friends who’ve received incriminating and inappropriate messages, and some who have been in situations where they have felt uncomfortable.Tinder Match Screen Shot

It is always imperative to take precautions when interacting with strangers online. During my internship at the Family Online Safety Institute, I’ve learned that online privacy and security is an issue that should always be at the forefront of your concerns when using the internet. Remember to be careful with the information you choose to share, such as where you live, your last name, the school you attend, etc. It is also important to keep in mind that the person whom you think you are talking to may not actually be who you think they are. Pictures can be used from other profiles and it’s easy for users to lie about their age. With the availability of sharing “moments”, Tinder users should remember that the pictures you choose to send are not necessarily temporary. If you do choose to meet up with a Tinder match, I strongly suggest meeting in a group setting for your safety and security.