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Right-swipes and warning flag just how teenagers negotiate sex and security on dating apps

Right-swipes and warning flag just how teenagers negotiate sex and security on dating apps


Professor of Media and correspondence, Faculty of wellness, Arts and Design, Swinburne University of tech

Connect professor in Media and Communications, Swinburne University of tech

Disclosure statement

Kath Albury receives funding through the Australian Research Council together with Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation. The Safety danger and health on Dating Apps task is an ARC Linkage partnership with ACON health insurance and Family preparing NSW.

Anthony McCosker currently gets financing through the Australian Research Council, Department of personal Services, Department of Premier and Cabinet (VIC), Paul Ramsay Foundation, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.


Swinburne University of tech provides financing as user for the discussion AU.

The discussion UK gets funding from the organisations

Popular commentary on dating apps frequently associates their usage with “risky” intercourse, harassment and bad psychological state. But those who have used an app that is dating there’s a whole lot more to it than that.

Our research that is new shows apps can enhance young people’s social connections, friendships and intimate relationships. Nonetheless they may also be a supply of frustration, exclusion and rejection.

Our research may be the very very very first to ask app users of diverse genders and sexualities to generally share their experiences of software usage, safety and wellbeing. The task combined a paid survey with interviews and imaginative workshops in metropolitan and local brand brand New Southern Wales with 18 to 35 year olds.

While dating apps were used to meet up individuals for intercourse and long-term relationships, these people were more widely used to “relieve boredom” and for “chat”.

Typically the most popular apps utilized had been Tinder (among LGBTQ+ ladies, straight men and women), Grindr (LGBTQ+ males), okay Cupid (for non-binary participants), and Bumble (right ladies).

Dating apps can be utilized to alleviate monotony as well as for chat. Oleg Ivanov/Unsplash

We discovered that while application users recognised the risks of dating apps, they even had a selection of methods to simply help them feel safer and manage their well-being – including negotiating permission and sex that is safe.

Secure consent and sex

Nearly all survey individuals frequently employed condoms for safe sex. Over 90% of straight both women and men frequently employed condoms.

Simply over one-third of gay, bisexual and queer males frequently employed PreP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to stop HIV transmission.

Half (50.8%) of right people stated they never ever or seldom talked about safe sex with possible lovers on dating/hook-up apps. Around 70% of LGBTQ+ participants had those conversations to some degree.

Amber (22, bisexual, feminine, local) stated she had been “always one that has got to start a intercourse talk over messages”. She used chat to talk about exactly exactly what she liked, to say her need for condom usage, to provide a merchant account of her very own sexual wellness, and also to feel “safer”.

Some homosexual and bisexual men’s apps – such as Grindr and Scruff – provide for some settlement around intimate health insurance and intimate methods inside the profile. Users can share HIV status, therapy regimes, and “date last tested”, along with saying their preferred intimate activities.

Warning flag

Numerous individuals talked about their practices of reading a profile for “red flags”, or indicators that their real or psychological security might be in danger. Warning flag included not enough information, ambiguous pictures, and profile text that suggested sexism, racism, as well as other qualities that are undesirable.

Confusing pictures are a red banner on dating apps. Daria Nepriakhina/Unsplash

Apps that want a shared match before messaging (where both events swipe right) had been observed to filter down a great deal of unwelcome conversation.

Numerous individuals felt that warning flag were more prone to come in talk in place of in individual pages. These included possessiveness and pushiness, or communications and photos that have been too intimate, too early.

Charles (34, gay/queer, male, metropolitan), as an example, defined red flags as:

nude pictures entirely unsolicited or even the very first message from you is just five pictures of your dick that I get. I would personally believe that’s a right up signal that you’re not planning to respect my boundaries … So I’m perhaps perhaps not likely to have a chance to say no for you whenever we meet in actual life.

Negotiating permission

Consent emerged as a concern that is key every area of this research. Participants generally felt safer if they had the ability to clearly negotiate the sorts of intimate contact they desired – or didn’t want – with a partner that is prospective.

Of 382 study individuals, feminine respondents (of all of the sexualities) had been 3.6 times almost certainly going to like to see information that is app-based intimate permission than male individuals.

Amber, 22, suggested negotiating consent and safe intercourse via talk:

It is a fun discussion. It doesn’t need to be sexting, it doesn’t need to be super sexy … We just want it had been easier in order to talk about intercourse in a way that is non-sexual. The majority of the girls which are my buddies, they’re love, “it’s method too embarrassing, we don’t speak about sex having a guy”, not really whenever they’re sex that is having.

Nonetheless, others worried that sexual negotiations in talk, for instance on the subject of STIs, could “ruin the moment” or consent that is foreclose, ruling out of the possibility they might change their head.

Chelsea (19, bisexual, feminine, local) noted:

Have always been I going, “okay so at 12 o’clock we’re planning to repeat this” after which imagine if we don’t like to?

Security precautions

With regards to came to meeting up, ladies, non-binary individuals and guys that has intercourse with males described safety strategies that involved sharing their location with buddies.

Ruby (29, bisexual, feminine, metropolitan) had a group that is online with buddies where they might share information on whom these people were ending up in, as well as others described telling feminine family unit members where they planned to be.

Anna (29, lesbian, female, local) described an arrangement she had along with her buddies so you can get away from bad times:

If at any point We deliver them an email about sport, they understand that shit is certainly going down … So if We deliver them a note like, “How may be the soccer going?” they know to phone me.

While all individuals described safety that is“ideal, they failed to constantly follow them. Rachel (20, right, feminine, regional) installed an application for telling friends whenever you expect you’ll be house, but then removed it.

We tell my buddies to simply hook up in public areas despite the fact that We don’t follow that guideline.

Handling disappointment

For a lot of individuals, dating apps supplied a place for pleasure, play, linking with community or meeting people that are new. For other people, app usage might be stressful or aggravating.

Rebecca (23, lesbian, female, local) noted that apps:

positively can deliver some body right into a depression that is deep well as an ego boost. You begin to question yourself if you’ve been on the app and had little to no matches or no success.

Henry (24, directly male, metropolitan) felt that lots of right men experienced apps as a place of “scarcity” in comparison to abundance that is“an of” for women.

Dating apps is stressful and aggravating. Kari Shea/Unsplash