Social and Dating App Guide for Parents

The chief strength of the Internet is its facility for communication. Social media gave the web the structure necessary to formalize interaction between individuals. Dating apps take those interactions and give them a context.

How Do Dating Apps Work?

For the developer, the primary challenge in a dating app is to match compatible couples. Currently the technique in widest use is a progressive system where newly acquainted people are allowed to introduce themselves in a gradually more complete fashion until the system is satisfied they actually want to talk to each other. Prior to unfiltered communication, which is usually the highest level, individuals can only exchange pictures, winks, and so forth

Which Dating Apps are Popular?

Currently, Tinder leads the industry due to its ease of use and popularity. The more formalized dating sites like and eHarmony are still popular with more traditional dating site audiences, but apps like Tinder, Skout, Snapchat and so on are quicker, geared to phones and more suited to the attention span of their teen audiences.

To be fair, any app or web site that allows instant messaging or direct messaging and has a large enough audience can become a dating app with little extra effort on the part of its audience. Options like Tinder, Skout and others are more useful because of the size of their audiences more than anything else.

Why Are They Popular?

The two most powerful forces in the world of teenagers are social proof and peer pressure. While they are obviously related, they manifest themselves in different ways online. Likes, retweets, upvotes, etc. are social proof on the web. Public discussion forums and chats are peer pressure. Once these two worlds are under the control of the user, the resulting popularity can be intoxicating. Apps like Skout make this process very much like a traditional message board.

Dating apps add a relationship dimension to these two forces and squarely place success in the former as a pre-requisite to success in the latter. It also makes sustained participation mandatory because missing even a few days of activity could cost the average teen weeks of hard work in building up their status.

How Do Parents Keep Up?

Knowing what’s happening on the web is really not all that difficult. There are a handful of high-volume news sites that cover popular apps on an ongoing basis. There is nothing stopping parents from having accounts on each site (with incognito names) and keeping up with events first hand. Parents should insist on knowing screen names and passwords for every social media site their children frequent, and block the others at the router.

Dating apps are a fact of life now. Adults made them profitable. Teens made them popular. The good news is they can be beneficial provided some basic rules are followed. For motivated parents, these rules and the knowledge required to enforce them are not difficult to understand.