Like Tinder, Hinge is a dating app available for Android and Apple devices that initiates connections using image-based profiles. Released in 2013, Hinge has grown in popularity with 20 million current members. Users are presented with potential matches based on location, age, and a number of individualized preferences including experiences. Swiping right on an image signifies interest. A swipe to the left eliminate unwanted profiles. A match is made when two users swipe to the right on one another’s profile. The app then facilitates messaging between the matched pair.
There is a simple workaround the age restriction and your children know it. Hinge requires a Facebook account to sign up. Any child with a fake Facebook account or fake birthday can sign into the app and begin swiping.
Hinge users are limited to at most 20 connections per day and are encouraged to make contact quickly. Users are required to contact a match within a 14-day window or the match disappears.
Hinge CEO, Justin McLeod, explained to Business Insider that the app was designed to facilitate romantic connections for busy professionals. His target audience is looking to build relationships, but aren’t interested in the serious commitment common in dating sites like Match.com or OkCupid. He distinguishes the app from Tinder because it lacks anonymity. To join, you must have a Facebook friend on Hinge and connections are only created if you share Facebook friends with a potential match. He likened meeting someone on Hinge to meeting at a friend’s cocktail party or wedding.
The Numbers Behind Hinge
Digital dating has come a long way in the last 10 years. A recent survey found that 80 percent of Americans have used online dating services and view it as an acceptable way to meet people. Five percent of those in committed relationships say they met online.
While Hinge is a relative newcomer into the crowded field that is digital dating, their growth is attracting attention:
Hinge reports a membership base of 20 million users.
- The app is only available in a limited number of larger cities around the U.S.
- They report a 50% male to female subscriber base.
- The average age range of Hinge users is 23-36.
- 99% of users are college educated.
The Dangers Behind Hinge
Parents need to be aware of any apps downloaded onto their child’s phone, especially those that facilitate relationships with strangers. While Hinge seeks to promote a mature environment based on accountability and transparency, any online system can be abused. Children are more susceptible to predators masquerading as upstanding citizens.
Once a match is formed, users are encouraged to communicate with the intent of meeting offline. Children may be lulled into exchanging pertinent information or meeting in person with predators who seek to do them harm.
People whose connections are refused can still locate Hinge users online because the Facebook connection is public. Users have reported being tracked down on Facebook by “jilted” Hinge subscribers.
Hinge matches people based on shared experiences. The company released a statement explaining the people bond most over checkered experiences such as being suspended, partying, or streaking. What parent wants their child connecting with friends because they value being suspended?
More serious dangers to children participating on dating apps in general include a common tendency for some individuals to engage in sexting. Dating apps attract adults looking to connect romantically. Children may be unintentionally exposed to situations or persuaded to participate in adult behaviors they may not have otherwise engaged in. Children encouraged to send nude or nearly nude photos to strangers face the potential for public humiliation or in some states the threat of child pornography charges.
Parents can restrict apps rated mature using the phone’s parental controls. This will stop your teen from downloading apps that are accurately labeled. Some apps are labeled 12+, so regular monitoring is the best defense for ensuring your teens are safe online.