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Flirting with Danger: The Rise of Dating Platforms and Apps


In conjunction with a marked increase in acceptance of online dating, dating apps have become increasingly popular over the years.[1] In the United States alone, the dating app industry generates almost $2.5 billion annually and is projected to grow further.

 

This trend has not escaped Singapore. In this tiny Republic alone, there are more than 10 dating apps available, including local companies such as Paktor and LunchClick, which have a user base in the high range of six figures. The marked increase in popularity and huge potential this dating industry has accrued is seen by the amount of investments dating companies have attracted. For example, Vertex Ventues, a global venture capital platform, has invested US$10.5 million in Paktor. [2]


Why the appeal? Users of dating apps cite reasons such as a fear of asking someone out face to face - the app helping to reduce the awkwardness of meeting someone for the first time, and also being able to meet similar minded people who are open to relationships, as factors that have resulted in a softening opinion towards the use of dating apps.

 

Teenagers have likewise caught onto this development. When Touch Cyber Wellness conducted a straw poll of over 300 teenagers aged 16 to 18, they found that almost all of the teenagers polled had heard of Tinder, a dating app. Furthermore, about 36 per cent of them had also been on Tinder as an adult user. Reasons for doing so include wanting to experience life as an adult, and a happy-go-lucky attitude where they felt “you only live once”.[3]

 

However, dating platforms has its associated dangers and risks that ought to be highlighted. Teenagers below the age of 18 could subject themselves to challenging relationships, and in more severe cases, molestation or even rape.

 

For male users above the age of 18, there is a high risk of running afoul of the law if they have sex with an underage girl. For example, in an interview with Channel News Asia, 21-year-old “Khai” shared how he once matched a girl on Tinder whom thought was 18, but was actually 15.[4] For those who use the app, it is vital that informed consent – not just consent – has to be established. Informed consent means that a person’s age must be confirmed, rather than believing what the person says at face value.

 

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