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Staying Safe Using Dating Apps 

Dating apps have become a popular way of meeting someone new. Whether swiping or messaging, whatever app you choose, it’s important to know how to keep yourself safe while using the app and if you decide to meet up with them.

WARNING: Due to the nature of the subject, some of the content in this blog may not be suitable for some of our younger readers. Dating apps are meant for people aged 18+.

This blog is part of our No Shame No Secrets – Sexual Health and Wellbeing Campaign, where we look at many different elements of keeping yourself sexually healthy and safe. You’ll find links to all our campaign blogs here, and follow our social media channels (see bottom of blog) to watch some fun videos.

What are online dating apps?

Dating apps are used to talk to people, usually in your local area. It’s mostly done with romantic or sexual intentions, but some apps offer a version to find friends as well. 

How old do you have to be to use dating apps?

Most dating apps have a minimum age of 18. This is to stop underage people from being contacted by predators on the app. Some underage people still try to use these apps, but some ask you to verify your age by providing an ID. If you look out for this on other people’s profiles, this is also an added security for you. 

Person on laptop unlocking someones profile looking at photos, videos and location.

Safety tips 

Don’t use the same photo that you use on your socials

This makes it easier for someone to find your profile on other social media accounts and learn more information than you’re comfortable with.

Only chat through the app at the beginning

Beware if someone wants to get off the app and chat somewhere else or meet up too soon. This can be a warning sign. Talking through the app means that any potentially offensive or inappropriate messages can be flagged up. If you change your mind, they won’t have your number or other ways of contacting you. Wait until you feel comfortable before you give them another way of contacting you.

Don’t sign up using your social media details

By signing up with your Instagram or Facebook account, you’re allowing them to share data with each other. This means that any matches may appear as suggested friends. This can be good to see if you have any mutual friends, but you might have information on your profile that you don’t want to share with a stranger. 

If you sign up using your social media account, increase your privacy settings to only share what you’re comfortable with.

Man and woman with smartphones sending coins to each other

Don’t respond to requests to send or receive money  

No matter how convincing someone’s reason might seem, never respond to someone offering you money or asking for money. They are likely scammers. Never share your bank details.

People who are on the app for genuine reasons wouldn’t ask. If you do get a message like this, report it! 

Don’t share personal information until you’re comfortable 

It can be exciting to talk to someone new, and you might feel like telling them everything. But remember, they are a stranger. Before sharing anything personal with your match, ensure you’re entirely comfortable sharing this with someone you’ve never met.

Never give someone you haven’t met your personal information, like your full name or home or work address.

Spotting a fake account

Signs someone’s account could be fake:

  • They only have one picture
  • They don’t have a verified sign (some dating apps allow you to verify your id)
  • A blurry photo could be a sign that it’s a screenshot
  • Images that look very staged/professional

If you think someone’s profile could be fake, you can do a reverse image search using Google to see if someone is catfishing or lying about who they are online. It’s really simple to do.

Safety tips for meeting in person

Video chat before you meet up in person 

Once you’ve chatted with a match for a while, video calling can be an excellent way of checking that they are who they say they are. It can also allow you to see if they speak the same way they do on the app. If they make you feel uncomfortable at any point, you can hang up!

Tell a friend where you’re going 

Make sure someone you trust knows where and when you will be meeting. This could either be a parent, friend, or trusted adult. Send a screenshot of your date’s profile to your trusted person. 

It could be a sign of danger if your date asks you to go somewhere else as soon as you meet. Tell them you want to stay where you planned. Don’t go with them. If they are genuine, they will understand. 

Rhondda Cynon Taf and South Wales Police bilingual Ask for Angela poster

Meet in a public place 

Avoid meeting your date in either of your homes or workplaces. Remember, this is a stranger, so you don’t want to let them know where you live or work until you feel comfortable. Also, avoid going to an isolated place like a park. It’s good to meet in a neutral space like a cafe, restaurant, or bar so you and your date can relax with lots of people around.

If you feel like you’re in danger, speak to a staff member. Many pubs tell you to go to the bar and ask for Angela. They will then call you a taxi and help you leave quietly.

Don’t rely on your date for transportation

Don’t get into a vehicle with someone you don’t know.

It’s really important that you’re in control of how you get to and from your date. Ask your parent or a friend for a lift. If you’re taking the bus or train, check that there’s a return journey when your date ends. 

Being in charge of your own transport means you can leave the date whenever you like and don’t have to rely on them if you feel uncomfortable. 

Stay safe, and have fun!

If you think something suspicious is happening or feel uncomfortable while chatting with someone, don’t be afraid to report and block them! Your safety is the most important thing.

Dating apps can be a great way to meet new people you wouldn’t have chatted to otherwise, so have fun and get social. Just remember the things you need to do to stay safe. 

Further information and support

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Talk to Meic

Meic is the information, advice and advocacy helpline for children and young people across Wales. Contact Meic if you need to talk to someone about anything that’s worrying or upsetting you. It’s free, confidential and anonymous. The service is open from 8am-midnight every day, and you can contact them by phone, text, or online chat