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The parents' guide to what's in this app.
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What's it about?
SPOTAFRIEND - TEEN MEETING APP TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS lets users find people nearby to "match" with to start communicating. After creating a profile with multiple photos, location, and description, it lets you rate other members (and lets other members rate you) by swiping left or right. It also lets you friend other members using a “super swipe,” which pushes your profile to the front of the pack so it's more likely to get noticed. The paid “Ultimate” membership buys you extra super swipes, priority profile listings, and the unlimited ability to call back accidental bad or good ratings. Though there's a system that's meant to verify age (taking a selfie in a designated pose, uploading an additional picture, and stating your birth date), it's possible to change your age once you're logged in, and multiple adults have had no trouble posing as teens.
Is it any good?
This is yet another creepy teen hookup app masked as a way to make new friends, and it's not safe for teens. Though the publishers -- who also created MyLOL -- do a better job than some apps of keeping the sexy profile pictures to a minimum, the confidence-crushing focus remains rating other members according to hotness. Though it carries a 17+ rating in the app store, it's described and designed to be used by kids as young as 13. Profile parameters restrict birth years from 1998 to 2004, but there's no true way to verify users' ages which is proven by the adults who have easily created accounts. Other potential issues include messaging any other user and forwarding a member's profile to other people via platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Gmail. Though there's a risk that a teen will agree to meet a stranger offline, the more likely and still dangerous outcomes are that young teens run into lots of age-inappropriate stuff, get the message that meeting people means swiping based on appearance, feel pressured to be sexual, and feel insecure about their appearance when they're rejected. Though apps like Spotafriend - Teen Meeting App to Make New Friends claim to help teens make friends (disregarding the vast differences between kids age 13 and age 19) but what they're really interested in is profiting from teens' insecurities without truly considering their safety.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about appropriate age limits for online (and offline) friends. How old is too old? Why is Spotafriend - Teen Meeting App to Make New Friends potentially dangerous?
Talk to your teen about online safety and connecting with strangers. Are there certain contexts when it makes sense to talk to strangers? How do you know someone is who they say they are?
Discuss the idea of rating other people by swiping. What are the problems that come with that? If you're only connecting based on appearance, what might you miss? How does it feel to be rejected based on looks?
Think about how well you know the friends you make online. Is it possible to know online friends as well as the friends you know in person?
For kids who love social networking
Our editors recommend
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