Dating in High Resolution: Dating App Safety


Elena Deeter, Opinion Editor

Imagine that day in junior high when you got a note on a folded loose leaf paper from your darling crush asking you if you like-like them. You had to choose from: “yes,” “no” and of course my favorite “maybe”. Now I don’t remember ever getting those, but I saw it on TV. Those notes are now on apps on your phone but sent to you from (mostly) strangers. The world is going digital and so are our dating lives. Tinder, Grindr, OkCupid, Zoosk, and many other dating apps are increasingly being used by college students as a resource for meeting new people, no matter the reason. Whether we like it or not, more couples are meeting online; one in ten Americans said that they have used a dating app or online dating site, according to the Pew Research Center.

Many differing opinions emerged in response to the rise of the dating apps, especially in regards to college-aged students using them. Some say that the apps are unsafe and meeting a stranger can lead to some extreme consequences, use your imagination here. There are those who think that they will be “catfished,” a term for being deceived by someone who isn’t what they said they were. And then there are those who defend the apps, saying that they can lead to good relationships, healthy casual fun and even friendships. Through all of these concerns and more, I decided the best way to find some of these answers was to download some of these dating apps and see for myself, which is the excuse I will tell my mother.

I downloaded Tinder and OkCupid. From the start, the apps worked very differently in its setup process. For Tinder, what was needed was a Facebook login, some pictures, my sexual orientation and an optional bio and I was ready to go. OkCupid, on the other hand, asked me to manually write in my name, date of birth, sexual orientation, location and a username (real names aren’t usually used). Then I had to set up my profile, which is optional but highly recommended as I figured out when I received tons of messages from confused wooers. I selected pictures from my phone, rather than Facebook, and answered a lot of personal, impersonal and silly questions. A lot of the questions had to do with sex, relationship preferences, pet peeves, etc. The purpose of the questions is that your answers are compared with other people’s answers, and then through that a percentage is shown on their profile on how much you match with them.

Both of these processes have their advantages and disadvantages. Fortunately, both dating apps ask for sexual orientation so matches are recommended accordingly. Tinder’s need for a Facebook login, allows for the slight reassurance that they are real. In comparison to OkCupid, one could potentially make up most of that, including the birthday. The username, on the other hand can be an advantageous way of protecting your identity just in case you encounter someone unsettling. The location settings for Tinder are a tad creepy; it will tell you how many miles you are away from them. This, as most things on these dating apps, acts as a double edged sword.

On Tinder, you can only speak to a person if you both swipe right (yes) to each other’s profile and you both match. I support this function as it’s safer. For OkCupid, you don’t have to even ever look at the person’s profile for them to send you a message. This, primarily, made me uncomfortable as I immediately received some fairly graphic HBO-like messages, sometimes even from 30-40 year olds. The messages did make it possible to start interesting conversations with people who share similar interests.

“As a busy college student with classes and a student athlete, Grindr and Tinder are how I meet people,” said a sophomore at Hamline, “I like Tinder more because you need to approve someone before they can talk to you so there are less jerk…”

Overall, all of these dating apps, Tinder, OkCupid, Grindr, etc. are as safe as you make them. I believe that the apps make it easier to find like-minded people to date, or not date. The apps have been found to increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, but that doesn’t mean that that will happen to you. It just means, please for the love of whatever you believe in, be safe, and trust yourself more than others. If you are going on a date with someone from one of these apps, tell your friend, roommate or me where you are, meet at a public place and pay attention to your instincts, not what the other person is telling you.