How students can stay safe while using dating apps and websites

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Whether you like it or not, the dating scene for college-aged people has changed. Dating apps have become synonymous with the college experience; it’s common for students to meet for drinks with a stranger that they met on Tinder less than 24 hours before. 

According to a study done by Pew Research, 48% of 18 to 29-year-olds have used a dating website or app. Despite their popularity, such methods are generally recognized as unsafe. 39% of adult men and 53% of adult women in the U.S. think dating apps are not a safe way to meet people. 

So, what can college students do to ensure that they are using dating apps in the safest way possible? 

Criminal justice senior Madison Pride said that dating app safety can begin before a date is even planned. 

“Making sure pictures that you’re using don’t have personal information,” Pride said. “Selfies outside your house are common, but that can be dangerous if it shows the numbers on your house.”

Pride also emphasized that it’s important to not feel guilty for putting your safety first. 

“At the end of the day, they’re not what’s most important, you’re what’s most important,” Pride said. “If you feel uncomfortable, honor that and respect that and trust yourself and be like, ‘no, I need to go.’”

East Lansing Police Department Neighborhood Resource Specialist Yutaka Benson said that people should avoid using their full name on dating apps, listing their workplaces and using photos they have posted on other social media. 

“If something is both on a dating app and on another social media, it could be potentially backtracked to you,” Benson said. “Then the whole point of only using your first name is meaningless because someone can find your Facebook profile or Instagram profile.”

Benson said that people should avoid letting their date pick them up at their dorm room or apartment. If a student is not able to drive themselves, they should take advantage of the CATA bus systems or rideshare services like Uber or Lyft.

Benson also said that the East Lansing Police Department is always available to help if a date doesn’t go as planned. 

“Whenever you feel that your safety is at risk, never hesitate to call us,” Benson said. “Even if you think that it might be stupid. It’s better for us to be aware of something, especially if it can turn into a stalking situation, then for us not to know anything about it.”

Political science senior Libby Draeger makes a point to not consume alcoholic beverages on dates unless she feels completely comfortable with the person. If she does drink, she makes sure to never leave her glass unattended, by finishing her drink before she leaves the table at any point. 

“If I absolutely can’t leave it or finish it before I go to the bathroom, then I’ll cover it with something just like as a precaution,” Draeger said. “So I know if I come back, if the cover has moved, then I’m a little bit suspicious of it.”

Draeger also uses the Life360 app, in which her friends and family can see each other’s locations at all times. She said this app has been helpful in the past when her friends have gone on dates with people they met online, because they know that if anything goes wrong, they know their last location.

Overall, it’s important for students to trust their instincts and know that they should remove themselves from any situation that starts to feel unsafe. 

“If something starts feeling weird in your gut, and you’re like, ‘I don’t think I trust this person’, it’s totally okay to just be like, ‘hey, I’m not clicking with you’,” Draeger said. “And normally bartenders or waitstaff are normally … really good about making sure you get the help that you need.”

If you need to talk to the police about a date gone wrong, you can contact the following:

 

East Lansing Police Department

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Tx: (517)-272-6046 (Non-Emergency Dispatch)

 

Ingham County Sheriff’s Office

Tx: (517) 483-6545

Guide to personal safety or obtaining a personal protection order.

If you need help on a date at any East Lansing bar, order:

Angel shot neat: an employee will help you to your car.

Angel shot with ice: an employee will call you an Uber or Lyft ride

Angel shot with lime: an employee will call the police

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