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Online dating has its perks — it’s less intimidating to approach someone you’re into and takes away some of the pressure of IRL flirting (ahem, you have ample time to think of cute conversation starters). You can tweak your profile so you always have up-to-date photos and can show off your fave hobbies. And your pool of potential crushes isn’t limited to the handful of people you see at school every single day, so you have way more options for people your age in surrounding towns.
Most dating apps have strict age restrictions, and you must be 17 or older to create a profile. Of course, you still need to follow the usual online safety precautions — never, ever give out your home address or personal information, look for synced social media profiles to make sure you’re not getting catfished, and avoid suspicious profiles with little to no information or photos, and if you decide to meet in person, make it somewhere reeeeeally public and let a friend or family member know exactly where you’ll be. Make sure to report and block any questionable profiles, as well.
With that said, if you’re ready to give online dating a shot, here are a few teen-friendly dating apps.
Coffee Meets Bagel
What’s good: If you’re looking for a relationship, this is the app for you. Coffee Meets Bagel will curate a list of potential matches based on your likes and interests every afternoon. Unsure what to say once you get a match? The app will suggest icebreakers to get the convo started.
What’s not: When using any dating app, you have the threat of getting in contact with an unsavory character. Luckily, Coffee Meets Bagel has a great report feature so if anyone is making you feel uncomfortable, you can let the app know ASAP.
What’s good: This is another right-swiping app, but with a twist — Bumble has a “women make the first move” rule, which means you need to reach out within 24 hours or the match expires. In same-sex pairings, either person can make the first move. Looking for a friendship rather than a romantic connection? The app offers Bumble BFF, a unique way to make friends if you just moved to a new area. There’s even Bumble Bizz, which allows you to network and connect with people in your desired field if you’re looking for career opportunities.
What’s not: If you’re not a fan of making the initial move or are just not comfortable reaching out first, this might not be the app for you.
What’s good: Happn combines the experience of meeting someone in real life with the experience of using a dating app. Every time you cross paths with another user of the app (literally) it will show on your timeline. Meaning, if you’re 1 to 850 feet away from another Happn user, their profile will pop up. So if someone else at school, at the gym, or anywhere else you hang out is also using the app, you’ll know and can send them a “like” or message.
What’s not: While it’s exciting to see that your crush at school is also on the app, you may also pass a creepy person on the street who is a user. Luckily, there are settings and filters you can adjust to avoid this, like age restrictions.
What’s good: HER is an inclusive dating app for queer women, lesbian, bisexual, nonbinary, and gender non-confirming people. You can add your pronouns and gender and sexual identities on your profile, and join in-app communities with people of similar interests.
What’s not: There is a swipe limit, so if you want to potentially connect with more people or use other features on the app, you have to pay for a premium subscription, which starts at $14.99/month.
What’s good: Yubo feels kind of like a cross between Tinder and Snapchat — you can swipe right on profiles that look interesting and chat via live video. The app has also added a bunch of safety features, like cell phone verification to keep fake profiles from cluttering up the site — but anyone can own a cell phone, so you still have to be extra careful about who you connect with.
What’s not: The swipe feature can make it feel pretty superficial, and while it’s supposed to be geared toward making new friends, a lot of people use Yubo as a casual hookup site. Also, the Android version is missing a few key features — so if you don’t have an iPhone, you may want to skip it for now.
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