Teens looking to date online don't necessarily have to turn to actual dating websites. Many teens choose to meet new people who have similar interests through social media platforms.
Teen Dating Websites
A 2015 report by the Pew Research Center suggests that 50 percent of teens used Facebook or another social media site to let someone know that they were interested in them romantically. Researchers also suggest that 8 percent of teens met romantic partners online. Young adults (ages 18-19) use these popular sites to get to know other teens without the pressure that can come with actively pursuing a relationship.
For Teen Chat: Chatpit
Chatpit is a website designed specifically for teens to chat and interact. While the website is appropriate for teens who just want to hang out and chat, it is designed as a dating website for teens and encourages users to flirt with each other. The site even boasts some marriages from among its users within the ten years of its existence.
Public chats on this website are watched by moderators in an attempt to make sure there are no abusive or inappropriate chatters. There is no charge to chat, but Java is required in order to access the chat rooms.
For a Traditional Dating Site Format: Flirtbox
Flirtbox is a traditional, easy-to-navigate online dating site. The minimum age to register for the site is 16 years old. There is a search option that will show you 16 to 19 year-olds in your area, so this is a good option if you are looking to date locally. You can also search for people using the Quick Search function or review the suggested matches provided by Flirtbox. In addition to browsing the profiles, you can also participate in chat rooms, discussions, and rate men and women in the Hot or Not section.
For Older Teens: MyLOL
MyLOL site is for users age 17 and older. The site has users from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the United States. You can register and create an account for free. The site allows you to upload pictures as well as participate in their social network platform or chat room. There is also a mobile app that you can download to your phone. Search for people in your area by using the drop-down menu on the homepage. You can specify the gender, age and location of the type of person you're looking for to narrow your search. You can also participate in their blogs and forums.
Websites for Socializing
Some of the best places online to meet other teens aren't actually labeled as dating sites; instead, they are geared toward socializing and meeting other people with similar interests.
Instagram: Photos and Much More
Instagram began as a way to share photos with friends but has quickly evolved into a social media platform that allows users to meet new people. Search for people in your age range with similar interests using the "Suggested Users" function or by searching for certain hashtags that interest you.
Instagram's usage among teens is steadily increasing, so there will be plenty of options to meet people using this tool. In fact, a national survey found that 76 percent of American teens ages 13-17 use Instagram.
Tumblr began as a platform for microblogs and has evolved into the number one social media network for teens. This site allows people to post pictures, poems, quotes or short thoughts. Unlike Twitter, there is no character limit, but longer posts are unusual. Like other social networks, you can tag posts which will help other teens with similar interests find you. You can also use the hashtag #meetnewpeople with each of your new blog posts. Likewise, try searching for the same hashtag to see which teens are also looking to meet new people online.
A Virtual World: IMVU
IMVU allows users the opportunity to create 3D avatars, and explore virtual communities while chatting with other users. Though this website allows adult users, the minimum age to create an IMVU avatar and enter the virtual worlds is 13. IMVU takes extra precautions to protect younger users and is quite popular with teens around the globe.
Join an IMVU group for teen dating to narrow down your prospects. Registration is required to enter the IMVU community, as is a download of the IMVU software. New users should understand that avatars created in IMVU are supposed to be based in fantasy, as are the virtual worlds within IMVU, so proceed with the knowledge that the other users you "meet" may be nothing like their avatars in real life.
Staying Safe on Dates
Meeting new people and dating online can be exciting but always proceed with caution:
- Don't give out your personal information online. This includes your name, address, where you work, where you go to school or who your parents are.
- Don't meet anyone alone.
- Meet in a public place-and stay in that public place rather than leaving with your date for at least a few times if you do decide to meet.
- If you feel pressured to do something you're not comfortable with, leave.
- Trust your instincts.
- Don't go anywhere in secret. Tell someone where you're going, who you're meeting and when you expect to be back.
- No drugs or alcohol is a no-brainer, but always get your drink rather than letting your date go purchase it and bring it to you. The possibility of having someone slip a date rape drug into your drink exists. This is especially true if you're with someone you don't know very well.
Find Your Match Online
While school gives you a pool of potential dating partners, sometimes you just don't click with anyone there, or the person you want to date is busy dating someone else. Finding someone online is one way to broaden your dating pool, and stop crushing on the same guy as all your friends. Plus, the one that's right for you right now may not even go to your school. Use these tips to find your perfect match:
- Look for people who share your interests.
- Be honest.
- Post appropriate pictures if you post pictures at all. Don't post pictures of yourself that you wouldn't want your parents, teachers, or future employers to see.
- Don't mix up the people you're talking to; keep lists of subjects you've chatted about and tidbits about their lives they've shared with you.
- Don't spend multiple hours a day scouring sites for a date. Remember to get out and have fun while you wait for the right person to contact you or send you a message back.
Teen dating, including online dating, can be fun but you shouldn't limit yourself to online prospects only. You could have a cute new guy in biology class. Be open to dating people you already know or see face-to-face every day. Dating is a time to explore, so don't limit yourself when you're looking to start a new relationship.