Things to think about when online dating
Many people enjoy using them safely, but online dating can have its risks. So before you consider signing up, keep these things in mind.
Don’t be tempted to try and get around this, these rules are in place to protect young people from harm. Some adults use the internet to build relationships with young people in order to abuse them online or meet them in real life, this is known as grooming. You can read more about grooming here.
You never truly know who you are speaking to unless you know them in real life. Just because someone has lots of pictures and looks real, that doesn’t mean you’re not speaking to a completely different person who is posing as someone else. Some dating apps have a ‘verified’ feature, but even these are not 100% accurate.
If something doesn’t seem quite right, trust your instincts.
If you want to meet someone, make sure you’ve got to know them a bit on the app first. Arrange your own transport too, someone you’ve never met picking you up or dropping you off (especially to or from home) is not a good idea.
Try to meet in a public place with lots of people, such as a café, and let your friends or family know where you are going and who you’re meeting. Text them if there’s a change to the plan and let them know how it’s going. Make sure you have plenty of mobile charge and signal, and that there is someone you can contact nearby if you don’t feel comfortable. If you are uncomfortable, there is nothing wrong with leaving. Your safety is the most important thing.
Keep an eye on your belongings, never leave them unattended, including any drinks.
If you’re feeling unsafe, you can ask for ‘Angela’, more information can be found in this video:
If you’re in immediate danger, don’t hesitate, call 999.
Even if someone is who they say they are, they might seem nice online but act completely differently when you see them.
Be careful when meeting anyone you’ve matched with online, following the tips and precautions above even if you think they seem nice. Remember that it’s always safest to leave if you don’t feel comfortable with someone.
Apps like Tinder can link up with Facebook, Instagram and even Spotify, anyone who uses it should check all their privacy settings on these connected sites to make sure they’re not revealing too much information. Make sure you’re not revealing any personal details in your social media pictures or bio either. Avoid including any other social media details in your bio such as your Snapchat username.
Try not to include details of your college, university or place of work in your profile.
It’s safer to message in the dating app too, so before anyone has met you and you can be sure you can trust them, don’t give any information out such as phone numbers or social media accounts. It’s fine to politely decline if someone asks you.
This is unacceptable and is never your fault, but unfortunately some people might send inappropriate or offensive messages on online dating platforms. Block and report these users immediately.
If someone asks you for money on a dating site, they are almost certainly a scammer. Report them to the app and to action fraud.
how to get help
If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.
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Find out what services are available to you in your area. Remember your school nurse is always there to give you confidential help and support.