Police say the teens on Tinder – some as young as 13 – are flirting with danger.
There is a separate platform specifically for users aged 13 to 17 years old, but many users are flouting the age restrictions.
Susan McLean, Australian cyber safety expert, says that teenagers use the controversial dating app to brag to friends about the number of older men who want to go on a date with them.
Police say that puts young girls in danger of being targeted by sexual predators. The app has a built-in geographical feature that provides users details of where each other party is located.
The profile information, including photograph and age, is also voluntary information. There is no way of verifying if users have provided their real age.
“Adults have been murdered after meeting on Tinder,” adds Susan McLean.
“Tinder is full of dodgy people and giving away your location is highly problematic.”
Jon Rouse, operations manager of Task Force Argos in Australia, shares the same sentiments.
He says that online dating apps have become an avenue for pedophiles to meet and groom children.
He also calls on parents to be more vigilant about their kids’ online activities.
Detective Inspector Michael Haddow of the NSW Child Exploitation internet unit says that parents should maintain open communication with their kids, so they know what precautions they should take.
“Everyone, not just teenagers, should be careful about meeting people they have only ever engaged with online,” he says.
Michael Wilkinson, director of security at Nuix Asia-Pacific and former digital forensic specialist with the NSW Police, agreed that dating apps have no strong age-identification mechanism to prevent users, especially teenagers, from falling victim to sexual predators.
Dating apps catered to teenagers do not only raise concern about teens flirting with dangerous individuals online, but also about how these apps become a form of social acceptance.
Although Tinder currently has only 14 million users compared to the 1.35 billion on Facebook, people are now starting to spend more time on the dating app.
Statistics from both apps show people spend 90 minutes swiping on Tinder compared to 40 minutes browsing through their Facebook feeds.