The Dangers of Digital Dating

The Truth About Online Relationships

The Dangers of Digital Dating

Erin Green, Newspaper Editor-in-Chief

Heart-shaped chocolate boxes. Blush pink teddy bears. Extravagant candlelit dinners. These cheesy and sentimental gestures are now staples in couples’ Valentine’s Day routines. In 2019, however, times are changing, and as technology evolves, so does the idea of romance. People have begun switching out their bouquet of roses for a flirty text and their fancy movie nights for a glitchy FaceTime call. It seems harmless enough, but what happens when an online relationship is taken too far?

Online relationships have become the center of love lives across the globe and continue to take over the dating world. For some people, swiping right or left is just a simple way to pass time, but for the individuals who take it more seriously, finding oneself emerged in a relationship with a person they’ve never met can become very dangerous, very quickly. Some teenagers interact with strangers on a day to day basis, and as innocent as it seems, it can get high schoolers in unexpected situations. Perhaps the problem isn’t the absence of romance, but the absence of honesty.

“I’ve met people who use apps like Tinder because they feel like it’s easier to date online than in person,” Daylon McClendon (10) said.

According to Mrs. Weaver, the scariest component of meeting someone online is how effortless it would be for a person to be deceived.

“There have been many stories of kids falling in love with an older man or woman and then running away with them,” Weaver said. “There are a lot of really gross people out there that will take advantage of teenagers.”

Some people have seen the dangers of online dating unfold right before their eyes. Ryan Colvin (10) had to step in when her friend started meeting boys on Instagram and Snapchat.

“There was probably about five guys she talked to, and they were all just not good people,” Colvin said. “If I wasn’t there for her, the situation could have progressed into something bigger.”

Before this new epidemic of internet dating can be fixed, it’s important to examine traditional high school relationships and the problems that arise within them.

“The whole idea of dating is trying someone on to see if it works out and figuring out what you like and what you don’t like,” Weaver said. “I think teens get super into it and think of it as a ‘This is the rest of my life’ kind of thing.”

Contrary to popular belief, catfishing is not the only thing social media users need to worry about.

“The guys my friends talked to most of the time were who they said they were; they were just really not nice dudes,” Colvin said.

People who participate in online dating should always be careful not to put themselves in threatening positions.

“You never really know what can happen,” McClendon said. “Make sure you learn more about them, ask for more pictures, and talk to their friends.”

Some feel the dangers of teenage internet relationships can be avoided, depending on the perspective of those partaking in it.

“I think if they approach any sort of dating like ‘If it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world’, which is the mature way, then that’s fine,” Weaver said. “But I feel like if teens are approaching it as ‘I’m going to find my husband or my wife online’, then it can be really dangerous.”

Although a person’s relationship is there business, no one should ever be afraid to reach out to an adult when someone they know is in an unsafe environment. Colvin knew this and spoke up to her friend’s mother.

“Her mom grounded her and took her phone,” Colvin said. “She eventually quit talking to all of them. At first, she was a little bit mad at me, but then she realized I was right.”

Although Weaver is aware of the scary predators out there in the world, she would allow her daughter to online date as long as she is able to monitor the situation.

“I would want to be involved in every step of the way,” Weaver said. “And I hope that we would have a relationship where she could actually talk to me about it and tell me what’s going on and we could figure out who the person really is.”