Why Teen Apps like Spotafriend are Concerning

Written By Kate Carr

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We live in a world where the internet plays a huge role in our everyday lives. Most of us have constant access to the web, whether we’re using our Maps app, Googling a recipe, or posting on social media. Teens today can’t remember a time without easy access to the internet and they certainly never had to wait for their mom to get off the landline before they could connect to dial-up.

Access to the internet undoubtedly plays a role in the social development of today’s kids. Many teens spend a large portion of their day Snapchatting, live streaming and group messaging with their friends since the internet is their main form of communication - sometimes even when they’re in the same room. So it makes sense why so many teens would be interested in a friend finding app like Spotafriend

For teens, it feels natural to make friends online, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe.

What is Spotafriend?

Spotafriend is a swiping app, with currently over 1 million users, and it's designed specifically for teens between the ages of 13 and 19. Dubbed as "tinder for teens" because of the similarities in its functions, the Spotafriend app is one of many used where kids are meeting new friends.

This chat app works similarly to Tinder and Yubo where users create a profile with pictures of themselves and short bio and swipe right to match or left to pass. When two users both swipe right, they can connect through a private chat. In its description, the app specifically states that it’s not a dating app, but “a fun chat app to expand your social network and meet locals!”

The app's website implies that Spotafriend is not just for making friend, but it's also used by teens as a dating app. And although the Spotafriend team states that they aren't a dating app, their blog includes posts like "5 Major Hook-Up Ground Rules" and "Can a Long Distance Relationship Work?"

A platform made specifically for teens may create a false sense of security for its users, but the truth is, you never really know who is behind a screen.

The Problem with Friend Finder Apps

Even though Spotafriend is meant for teens ages 13-19, both Google Play and iTunes app stores rate this for users aged 17 or older. Spotafriend is made specifically for teens, which is supposed to make the app safer. Though, even if everyone on the app is the age they claim to be, does any parent really want their 13-year-old preteen talking to an 18-year-old adult stranger?

Any app that connects teens to strangers is cause for concern. Many friend finding apps are also location-based, which increases the possibility that your teen would try to meet up with a stranger outside of the app.

Because teenagers don’t have a fully developed frontal lobe, they lack the ability to fully anticipate and think through the consequences of their actions. They don’t completely understand the risks involved with using friend finding apps, which is why they can be especially dangerous. Parents can help keep their teens protected by having a conversation with them about online safety and monitoring their screen time.

Spotafriend does make an attempt to verify the age of its users, but its picture verification process can’t be counted on and has proven to be ineffective. In fact, a 42-year-old woman was able to pose as a teenager on the app with ease. A platform made specifically for teens may create a false sense of security for its users, but the truth is, you never really know who is behind a screen. 

It should be noted that Spotafriend isn't the only popular friend finding app that teens are using, as Flamingo, MeetMe and Skout are all popular alternatives. 

To learn more about apps like Spotafriend, search our App Advisor.

 

About Kate Carr

Kate Carr is a recent grad from the University of Vermont with a degree in Psychology. She's interested in social marketing and is the Editorial Content Associate for Zift. 

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