Dating websites have been around for many years. There has been a growth globally with the use of dating sites used, because everyone is becoming connected online and using social networking sites. In the age group of 18-24 year olds, it was reported that 1 in 10 use Tinder and similar apps have become the 4th most common way of meeting a partner in the UK.
However, the rise in popularity to use dating apps has started to cause concerns. Sites like Tinder, Grindr and Plenty of Fish are very popular with students, because they are free. Whether it’s to find a new partner, make friends or just to have a little fun, there has been a steady increase in the amount stalking and harassment cases reported to the police. In a Press Association freedom of information request to 30 police forces, it was revealed that in 2014 there were 204 crimes reported from the use of dating apps, this has doubled in 2015 to 412 reports of crime relating to similar dating apps. Andy Cooke, the Deputy Chief Constable of Merseyside and National Chief Police Lead said:
“The rising popularity of online dating apps and websites has contributed to an increase in the number of recorded crimes. We strongly encourage users to report offences and seek support if they become a victim of any type of crime. I would urge those who use online dating apps to be as security conscious as possible and not to share personal data with anyone until they are sure about those they are communicating with.”
Talking to people online can lead to you being stalked if you give them your personal information, but also you can be catfished. Catfish refers to someone having a fake profile in order to lure people into having romantic feelings for them. The American TV show Catfish (2012 – present) has shown examples of people who are suspected and have been caught catfishing. Bad experiences like this shouldn’t put you off using dating apps, as it has become a common way of finding a partner in modern society.
While in several cases we see examples that illustrate meeting someone online can be dangerous, it doesn’t mean it always happens. An example of this is one of my fellow housemates. She met her now boyfriend on Tinder. After three months of talking they met up in a public place in Liverpool and became good friends. Their friendship then progressed into a romantic relationship and have been seeing each other for 8 months so far. I also met my current boyfriend online. It shouldn’t be frowned upon to use dating apps, because of their reputation. The problems with it is how sensible you use the app.
From personal experience and as advice, if you plan to meet someone who you met online; you should tell someone and meet that person in a public place. To be safe online you have to be smart. The apps themselves, don’t have effective security measures to know whether a profile is real or not, nor can they stop you from giving out your personal information.
Speaking to Olly and Natalie on THIS Radio on Tuesday from 3 -4;30 pm the Merseyside Police force lead for Cyber Crime, Superintendent Dave McCaughrean said:
“There has been an increase in reports of misuse of the apps of people meeting people who are being duped online. From our perspective as a police force you can prevent a lot of this by protecting yourself, checking your settings, making sure your friends know where you are, if you’re not sure about something, or if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”
Ayo Akinrele, the Vice-President of Liverpool Hope Student’s Union also provided additional concern on the programme:
“One of our concerns is student safety, especially when meeting people that they don’t know, and they’re not familiar with on the likes of Tinder, Grinder and Plenty of Fish popular dating apps which students are using. We’d like to say as well if anyone ever acts in any of your interactions in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, or you feel compromises your safety and wellbeing then use the site’s in-built mechanisms to report these kind of interactions. If a situation arises where you feel in any way at risk offline (i.e. inappropriate behaviour or non-consentual physical contact) having met with someone new, then please phone the police straight away on 999.”
For more help and advice you can visit www.hopesu.com
You can listen to the full interview with Superintendent Dave McCaughrean below:
TO LISTEN TO SIMULAR CONTENT TUNE INTO THE OLLY AND NAT SHOW ON TUESDAY BETWEEN 3PM AND 4:30PM
Written By: Alice Denmark
Header Image: Creative Commons, Pixabay