A study by Northwestern Medicine in the United States suggests that underage gay teens are using adult dating apps such as Grindr and Scruff to find new friends. Online surveys directed at sexually active gay and bisexual boys between the ages of 14 and 17 revealed more than 50% of participants used the apps for more than just hooking up, this despite the fact the apps have an age limit of 18 years.
Reasonings for this behaviour included a lack of local access to gay support or social groups or the responders being worried about their sexual preference becoming public knowledge.
One of the authors of the study, Dr. Kathryn Macapagal said the following, “Youth who use these apps are, many times, also looking for partners on Facebook, Instagram, Tindr, etc. If you’re using something like Grindr, the likelihood of you having a sexual relationship with this person is higher. But we also found that although you might have had sexual relations with these folks, (they) might have turned into friends, there might have turned into boyfriends. So there is some evidence that youth are getting lots more out of these apps than just sexual relationships.”
While there were obvious concerns over the revelations, there were also positives as it suggested those who used the apps were also more likely to access sexual health services. Macapagal continued, “Gay and bisexual adolescent boys account for almost two-thirds of HIV infections among teenagers.. unfortunately sex education and HIV prevention tailored to their needs is almost nonexistent.The sooner we understand the role these apps play in the lives of gay and bisexual teen guys, the sooner we will be able to tailor sex education and HIV prevention.”
Grindr responded to the findings – “Grindr does not condone illegal or improper behavior and we are troubled that an underage person may have been using our app in violation of our terms of service. Grindr services are only available for adults.” this is their latest upset following news they had shared users HIV statuses with third party companies.
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