Tag Archives: Apps

Dating Apps with Teens are Dangerous for Adults

Deceptive Teens Phone(This is the second of a three-part series on the dangers of dating apps and teenagers. See the first in the series here.)

It is obvious to tell teens on dating apps their vulnerability to sexual predators. What is not so obvious is the danger to adults when teens use these apps.

In June, a Houston man used the dating app Plenty O’ Fish to meet an 18 year-old woman. After talking online for three days, the woman invited him to her apartment. When he arrived, the woman claimed to need to take a phone call. When she left, two male teens approached with a gun. When the man had no money and refused to take them to his car, the teens shot him. The man survived by playing dead and calling 911 when his attackers fled. The girl was only 14 and had done the same scheme with another victim.

In Indiana last month, a nineteen year old man used the app, Hot or Not, to meet a 17 year-old girl (“of age” in Indiana). The two meet and have sex. It turns out the girl was only 14. The girl testified at his trial and admitted lying about her age. She said, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you my age. It kills me every day, knowing you are going through hell and I’m not. I want to be in trouble and not you.”

However, even if the sex was consensual and even if the girl did lie about her age, it is not a defense under most statutory rape laws. After a short jail sentence he is listed as a sex offender for 25 years. As such, he cannot live with his parents because his brother is 15. He is forbidden from using computers or smart phones to communicate with minors the rest of his life.

These stories aren’t just important for adults to reconsider their use of dating apps. Teens need to know them as well. The Indiana story shows what a young teen can do to someone they care about when they lie about their age in these apps.

For a list of these apps see my previous article on dating apps.

ABC 13 Eyewitness News. (2015, July 6). Police: Man played dead after being shot in southwest Houston. Retrieved from News: http://abc13.com/news/police-man-played-dead-after-being-shot-in-sw–houston/831467/
Kasparian, A. (2015, August 5). How a dating app hookup landed a teen on the sex offender registry. Retrieved from Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/2015/08/teen-listed-as-a-sex-offender-for-dating-app-hookup/
Phillips, K., & Fitzpatrick, D. (2015, August 4). How a dating app hookup landed a teen on the sex offender registry. Retrieved from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/03/us/dating-app-sex-offender-registry/
Shay, M. (2015, July 10). Charges dropped against teen accused of luring shooting victims. Retrieved from ABC 13 Eyewitness News: http://abc13.com/news/charges-dropped-against-teen-accused-of-luring-victims/840675/

12 Dangerous Dating Apps for Teens

Woman phone-Masked man(This is the first of a three-part series on the dangers of dating apps.)

A fourteen year-old girl feeling (like most young teens) lonely and unsure of herself, turns to her smart phone.

She installs the app MyLOL claiming to be the “#1 teen dating site in the US, Australia, UK and Canada.” She meets a young teen boy who finally gives her the attention she can’t get at school.

Two months later they arrange to meet for the first time at her home when her parents are away. The young teen boy proves to be a 28 year-old taxi driver. After sexually abusing her, he returns three days later to her school. The girl tells her teacher who calls police who arrest the man.

The police find that he had been in contact with other young girls through MyLOL. He pleaded guilty to six counts of sexual activity with a child and is now in prison.

MyLOL markets itself to 13 to 20 year olds and claims to monitor posts for illegal activity and nudity. However, the age of users is not verified.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) calls MyLOL a “playground for pedophiles.” The NSPCC is

“calling on all teen dating apps and websites to take immediate steps to protect their young users. … For many young people socializing … through mobile phone apps is part of everyday life. So it’s vital that when they sign up to an app they aren’t exposed to adult sexual content or have encounters with adults that puts them at risk of being sexually abused.”

Parents this is just one app of many to keep away from your teen’s phone. Here is a list of teen dating apps that pose this danger:

  • Hot or Not
  • Meetme
  • MyLOL
  • Omegle

Dating apps for adults are also dangerous for teens and are not difficult for teens to bypass their age requirements:

  • Badoo
  • Bumble
  • Coffee Meets Bagel
  • Happn
  • Hinge
  • OkCupid
  • Plenty O’ Fish
  • Skout
  • Tinder

Conway, P. (2015, February 9). 6 Adult Dating Apps Teens Are Using Too. Retrieved from Common Sense Media: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/6-adult-dating-apps-teens-are-using-too

DailyMail.com. (2014, January 24). Teenagers joining ‘playground for pedophiles’ MyLOL website to avoid being checked up by Mum on Facebook. Retrieved from Daily Mail News: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2545658/Teenagers-joining-risky-websites-avoid-check-Mum-Facebook.html

MyLOL. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.mylol.com

Philby, C. (2014, August 11). Teenage dating apps are hunting ground for adult abusers. Retrieved from The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/teenage-dating-apps-are-hunting-ground-for-adult-abusers-9662817.html

Woda, T. (2015, May 1). Teen Dating Apps That Are Bad News. Retrieved from uknowkids: http://resources.uknowkids.com/blog/teen-dating-apps-that-are-bad-news

5 Dangerous Apps For Teens

Mardi Gras MaskIn my program on social media, “Not of the World,” I put on a Mardi Gras mask.

I proceed to talk to my audience as if they don’t know who I am. If I were to use bad language or hit someone or steal something from someone in the audience, I would get away with it because no one would know who did it. If no one knows it is me, I don’t have to worry about any consequences to my behavior.

This is absurd because even though I wear a mask, everyone knows it is me.

Teenagers are especially attracted to privacy, independence, and not being supervised. That makes them especially vulnerable to the risks of phony privacy. The “responsibility” and “consequences” part of the brain isn’t fully developed until the mid-twenties. I am sure you have heard a teenager say, “It won’t happen to me.”

Adding phony privacy to a teenage brain is like throwing gas on firewood; all you need is a match for a huge fire.

The match is some of the most popular apps to teenagers.

It started with Snapchat that promises to erase any picture a short time after you send it to someone.

Burn Note makes that promise with texting.

Whisper and Secret-Speak Freely are places where you can post whatever you want anonymously: vent, confess, share intimate fantasies or anything else as long as there are no identifiable names or information.

Omegle is a chat room for anonymous instant messaging with a stranger.

Watch for and deny access to these apps with your teenagers.

As I do in “Not of the World,” we have to constantly make the following loud and clear:

Social media, the internet, and texting
ARE NOT PRIVATE!

(McIlhaney, Jr., J. S., & Bush, F. M. (2008). Hooked. Chicago: Northfield Publishing.)
(Schryver, K. (2014, March 26). Trend Alert: 6 Messaging Apps That Let Teens Share (Iffy) Secrets. Retrieved from Common Sense Media Making Sense Blog: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/trend-alert-6-messaging-apps-that-let-teens-share-iffy-secrets)