Children as young as 11 or 12 are registered on dating sites, a study reveals

According to a study conducted by the University of Toronto, more and more preteens are joining dating apps to find love. This phenomenon especially affects queer teenagers.

Tinder, Bumble, Badoo or Hinge may have a strict policy regarding the age of their users, it happens like this teenagers, even pre-teens, manage to get around these rules.

This is what a new study published in the scientific journal shows BioMed Centrale (BMC) last week. According to the authors, researchers from the University of Toronto (Canada), lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents are thirteen times more likely to declare themselves registered on dating apps than their heterosexual peers.

Being assertive online is easier for teens

The cause, according to the authors of the study: the difficulty in meeting people Ireland and fear of stigma.

“Lesbian, gay, or bisexual teens, including preteens, may have few options for romantic partners in their schools, where they may also face discrimination, bullying, and stigmatization because of their sexual orientation.says lead author Jason Nagata, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. Dating apps may make it easier for teens to identify other LGBTQIA+ users in their geographic vicinity, while it may be more difficult to determine a potential partner’s sexual orientation in real life. »

To reach this conclusion, the researchers analyzed data from 10,157 adolescents, mostly aged 11 to 12, who were part of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, the largest long-term study of brain development and children's health in the United States. The data was collected between 2018 and 2020. Teens answered questions about their use of online dating apps and their sexual orientation.

The results showed that preteen boys were nearly three times more likely to report online dating than girls.

“Preadolescent boys are more likely than girls to report that social media has made them feel more connected to their significant other,” says co-author Kyle T. Ganson of the University of Toronto. Previous research has shown that half of boys believe social media makes them feel emotionally closer to their partner, compared to 37% of girls. »

As child psychiatrist Stéphane Clerget, author of the book, explains to Doctissimo How do you become gay or straight? : “At 11 you don't necessarily worry about your love life but you can start having one. But if declaring your love is one thing when you are a mature and heterosexual pre-adolescent, today it remains complicated for girls or boys who identify with homosexuality.. »

Be aware of the risks associated with online dating

The authors of the study recognize that the use of social networks or dating apps can have advantages for adolescents, especially when it comes to socializing, but they still recommend maximum caution in their useand warn parents of the risks associated with these online encounters: cyberbullying, manipulation, privacy violations and cybercrime.

“Parents should talk to their children about media use, including online dating, and establish rules as part of a family media use plan. »

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Source: Madmoizelle

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