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

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 are 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. Some teens spend all day snapchatting and messaging with their friends – 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 an app like Spotafriend. 

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

What is Spotafriend?

Spotafriend is a swipe-based friend finding app designed specifically for teens between the ages of 13 and 19. There are currently over 1 million teens using the app.

It works similarly to Tinder and Yellow — users create a profile with pictures of themselves and short bio, 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 is also a teen 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

Even though Spotafriend is meant for teens 13-19, both GooglePlay and iTunes rate the app 17+. Spotafriend is made specifically for teens, which is supposed to make the app safer. 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 – or are convinced to do so by another user.

Teens don’t have a fully developed frontal lobe and 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 safe by having a conversation with them about internet safety.

Spotafriend does make an attempt to verify the age of its users, but its picture verification technique 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. 

                                               To learn more about apps like Spotafriend,
                                          search our App Advisor or watch the video below.


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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