Love and Technology: Preparing Your Kids for Online Dating

By Rachel Chandler

In today’s digital world, dating has taken on a whole new dimension, and it’s vital for parents to guide their children through this exciting, but complex journey. Thanks to the ever-increasing role of technology in our lives, our children have access to incredible tools for communication and connection. Texting, Snapchat, and other online platforms have become the norm for interaction, making it both easier and more challenging for young hearts to navigate the path of love.

The rise of online dating apps and websites have transformed the dating landscape dramatically in recent years. These platforms open up a world of possibilities, enabling individuals to connect with people they might never have crossed paths with. It’s a fantastic opportunity for those seeking to broaden their horizons and meet someone special, even if they’re not from the same area or social circle.

However, as technology continues to shape the dating scene, we’ve witnessed a shift towards a more casual approach to dating. Many young people now primarily communicate with their romantic interests through text messages and Snapchat, often spending minimal time together in person. While these digital connections provide a sense of comfort and convenience, they may not always allow for a deeper understanding of one another. True connection involves not just words on a screen but also the nuances of body language and the warmth of a spoken conversation.

As parents, it’s essential for us to guide our children in finding a balance between the digital and physical realms of dating. Encouraging face-to-face interactions and open communication can help them build meaningful connections in an increasingly screen-centric world. Let’s empower our kids to make the most of technology while not losing sight of the genuine, in-person connections that can truly spark love and lasting relationships.

To help you start preparing your kids for online dating, here are four of the most common dating apps that young people are using:

Tinder: Tinder is one of the most common and well-known dating apps that is used. Individuals use this app to get to know other individuals. Some people use Tinder in hopes of finding a forever partner, but a lot of the users on this app tend to be more interested in “hook-ups” rather than real relationships.

Bumble: Bumble is a dating app that allows women to make the first move, rather than men. After one has matched with someone on this app, only women can send the first message to a man. Some individuals view this as a good thing, while other individuals do not like this feature. The majority of the users on Bumble are looking for a real relationship, and not a quick “hook-up”.

Hinge: Hinge is a dating app that does not focus on swiping left or right on someone if you like them or not, but instead, you can simply look through different individuals’ profiles and “like” them if you are interested in that individual. Because of this, Hinge is said to be less focused on the profile pictures that someone uses and how attractive they are, but rather focused on communicating and getting to know other individuals.

Christian Mingle: Christian Mingle is a dating app that is made specifically for Christians. Other similar dating apps are specific for other religions, such as Mutual for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or JDate for Jewish individuals. Members of certain faiths or religions may prefer these dating apps that are specific to their own beliefs because they will be meeting others who have the same beliefs. 

All of these apps can be used for free, but there are different add-ons that can be purchased.  

Take time to explain and talk about “catfishing” with your child. This is when an individual uses someone else’s photos or information and they pretend to be that individual. Behind a screen, individuals can pretend to be whomever they want to be. As parents, it is very important to remind your children to be extremely cautious of using dating apps.

Be sure to remind your kids to not put too much personal information on a dating app. On all dating apps, you create a profile that individuals will look at to decide if they would want to get to know you or not. While you want to add information to help others get to know you a little bit better, you do not want to add any information that could compromise your safety, such as where you live or where you work.

Even though online dating can sound scary, there can still be good that comes out of it. Many individuals have found love and lasting relationships through using such technology. I know this firsthand because I met my husband on a dating app.

During the pandemic, I was struggling to meet new people and was simply bored of being in isolation with my family. I decided to download Mutual. I had many instances where I matched with men who immediately gave me many red flags and I decided to not continue talking with them. In another instance, I matched with a cute boy who was very polite, kind, and loving. After talking with him over technology for a month, due to physical distance, I finally met this man in person. We ended up experiencing the story of happily ever after and eventually were married.

I am a witness to the good that can come out of online dating, if it is used wisely. In this technology-filled era that we live in, online dating is something that is becoming more and more popular. Parents need to be aware of the online dating that occurs in children’s lives. Technology can be beneficial and helpful in many ways, but only if one knows how to properly use it. It is crucial for parents to talk with their children about online dating and help them navigate through the digital world that we are currently living in.

To continue learning more about dating, social media, and how you can talk with your children about these topics, check out our book: 30 Days of Sex Talks 12+: Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy.

Rachel Chandler is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho majoring in Marriage and Family Studies, with a minor in Child Development. With her degree, she is hopeful to have a positive impact on other individuals’ lives and continue to receive a master’s degree in counseling. She and her husband currently live in Washington, where she enjoys spending time outdoors, exercising, and baking.

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