What is Spotafriend?
Spotafriend describes itself this way: “Meet teens near you with Spotafriend, a tinder alternative for people ages 13-19. Get pictures of other teens around you, and swipe right to accept. If you both accept, you can chat privately through the app.”
What Parents Need to Know
Spotafriend is an app directly marketed towards teens, and it has over a million users. Teens are told to seek parental permission if under 18 – although iOS and Android app stores both rate the app as appropriate for those 17 or older.
Spotafriend’s creators describe the app as “the new way to make friends”. However, if you jump around Spotafriend’s site, you will quickly feel like you are on a teen dating site. We saw several blog posts aimed towards teens and dating. Blogs from advice on the biggest turn-offs for girls and guys – as well as what type of friend zone are you.
To register for an account – users must enter their username, password, email, gender, birthday, city and area they live in. Or, they can quickly sign-up by using their Facebook account. Spotafriend does attempt to “verify” a users age. After entering their login information, new users must submit a selfie with a pose Spotafriend specifies. Then, users must upload a photo of themselves. We did find some reports online of this process not being a full proof safety measure. One writer, Lisa Schmidt, 42, writing for Global Dating Insights, wrote an interesting piece on how easily her selfie passed the application process as she posed as a 14/15-year-old-girl.
Like Tinder, the app is location-based – and works on a swiping basis to form matches. Users engage with the app by swiping pictures of other teens nearby. They swipe right or click a green check mark to become friends. They swipe left or click a red “x” to pass. If they both accept, a match is made and the two users can start chatting privately.
Even if everyone using the app is 13-19 as a parent, you know that the age range is very wide. Most of us probably wouldn’t want our 13-year-old dating and interacting privately with a 19-year-old adult – but this app makes these interactions easy to do.
Although Spotafriend claims to be more teen-friendly than other sites like Tinder, the only way you can really keep your children safe is by asking to access their account and monitoring if on a regular basis.
We encourage you to talk to your teens on a regular basis about the dangers of online dating and using “hook-up” apps on their smartphones. Encourage them to make new friends and build relationships at school, by participating in after-school sports and clubs, or by joining a religious group that offers clubs or meet-up groups designed specifically for teenagers.
If the types of apps that your teenager uses becomes a problem, make sure that you are using a trust-worthy parental control that will allow you to block inappropriate apps like Spotafriend, Tinder, and many others on their devices. Encourage your teen to build relationships the “old-fashioned” way by starting a conversation and getting to know potential dates in person!