Online dating is no longer just “all the rage” – it is officially the cultural norm for young singles that want to meet people from the comfort of their own home.

There was a point in my life where I found myself on different online dating apps, and I’ll have to admit, my experience was relatively positive. Other than a few bad first dates, and about a hundred stressed-out phone calls from my dad (“Hey, where are you, is this guy safe?”), I would say my experience with online dating has been successful.

Despite that, I had a conversation with my friend the other day, “Would you support your children, once they were of age and their Tinder accounts?”

No way.

Once your children hit eighteen, they legally have a free run. But the truth is, there are multiple risks to online dating apps – and I’m not just talking about the obvious ones.

You’re connecting with complete strangers. Often, you may not even have a mutual friend that can vouch for your match.

If you think your child may be on Tinder, read a few of the pitfalls of online dating.

The age controls can be relatively easy to bypass

Props on the implementation of age controls on popular dating apps. Typically, these apps will link to Facebook. Facebook will often flag a profile if the age is less than legal age. The problem with this is that it is pretty easy to lie about your age on online profiles.

Not only does this pose a significant safety concern to the underage user, but it could potentially cause legal issues for an unknowing adult using (and trusting) the app.

No background checks

I’ll admit, having a dating app that does criminal record checks is a little extreme. Not to mention, many people are reformed and would like to leave difficult conversations for later dates. HOWEVER, the point is, you could be having a conversation with ANYONE.

There is no way to know if the person on the other side of a profile is a kind, hardworking individual or if they are homicidal.

That’s why, when you go on an online date, you should meet your date at a public place. Never get into a private situation or into a vehicle with a stranger (and remember: your Tinder date is, most definitely, a stranger).

May make the user more superficial

The attraction on apps like Tinder is based, almost solely, on physical attraction. Despite how awesome somebody’s personality may be, the truth is, they likely won’t get your attention unless you’re attracted to them.

Users can now swipe through a sea of single, attractive people – and they have the opportunity to be picky! You are stripped of acknowledging other award-winning qualities, such as humour, kindness or dedication.

It is easy to become superficial in these apps.

But, furthermore, how easily does this trend fall into your future relationships? With instant, feel-good gratification and the ability to determine a mutual attraction within, potentially, just a couple minutes, will that perpetuate a wandering eye in a relationship?

May fuel insecurities

Picture this: you take a great picture of yourself and update your profile with it. Suddenly you’re not getting any matches.

Picture this: your match and you have been talking on the app for a while. Suddenly he stops replying.

Picture this: You have a good connection with somebody you’ve gone on dates with from the app. Suddenly they tell you they don’t want a relationship.

The truth is, online dating apps are meant for casual relationships. Serial users may have hundreds of messages in their inbox. More often than not, people are on online dating apps for casual flings, as opposed to serious relationships.

When I first decided to write this article, the obvious answer to me was: SAFETY. However, as I questioned other Tinder-users, a handful of them responded, “It just doesn’t make me feel very good.”

This is a serious pitfall to adults. However, it could be even more debilitating to a teenager that may be struggling with self-image.

With hundreds of beautiful people plastered on billboards, magazine covers, and the television, do any of us really need a reason to feel worse about ourselves?

Adds to hookup culture

Don’t get me wrong; I do not doubt that many people use these apps to find commitment. However, the cold, hard truth is that many people don’t.

Websites such as Tinder and Grindr were founded on the premise that it would be a perfect solution to those seeking casual sexual encounters.

Not only could this be a tricky situation for a teenager to get themselves into, but STI counts have been on the rise since online dating apps have become so prevalent on our phones.

In 2005, health officials in the United States linked an increase of STI reports to a rise in online dating. Cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV have all seen a rise.

Anonymous sex is more frequent, and people have a higher number of sexual partners than ever before. This leads to an increased risk of exposure to STIs.

Despite the benefits of online dating (like being exposed to people that you may not have been naturally), there are definitely some pitfalls to creating a Tinder account.

Navigating online dating can be difficult for anybody – but especially those who are underage (and inappropriately on Tinder).

If you’re considering downloading any dating app, such as Tinder, Grindr, or Bumble, consider the adverse effects it might have. Furthermore, if you suspect your underage child may be engaging in online dating, closely monitor their mobile device activity to ensure that all their apps are age-appropriate (Candy Crush is more fun anyway).

Written by Celina Dawdy