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 college students to meet up for a drink with a stranger they met on Tinder less than 24 hours before.
According to a study by Pew Research, 48% of 18-29 year olds have used a dating site or app. Despite their popularity, these methods are generally recognized as dangerous. 39% of adult men and 53% of adult women in the United States think dating apps are do not a safe way to meet people.
So what can students do to make sure they’re using dating apps in the safest way possible?
Madison Pride, a criminal justice official, said dating app safety can start even before a date is scheduled.
“Make sure the photos you use don’t contain personal information,” Pride said. “Selfies outside your house are common, but it can be dangerous if it shows the numbers on your house.”
Pride also stressed that it’s important not to feel guilty about 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 say, ‘no, I have to go.'”
East Lansing Police Department Neighborhood Resource Specialist Yutaka Benson said people should avoid using their full names on dating apps, listing their workplaces and using photos that they posted on other social networks.
“If something is on both a dating app and another social network, it could potentially set you back,” Benson said. “So the point of just using your first name doesn’t make sense because someone can find your Facebook profile or your Instagram profile.”
Benson said people should avoid letting their date pick them up from their dorm or apartment. If a student is unable to drive on their own, they should take advantage of CATA bus systems or ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft.
Benson also said the East Lansing Police Department is always available to help if a date doesn’t go as planned.
“Anytime you feel your safety is in danger, never hesitate to call us,” Benson said. “Even if you think it might be stupid. It is better that we are aware of something, especially if it could turn into a situation of harassment, that we do not know about it.
Libby Draeger, senior political scientist, insists on not consuming alcoholic beverages unless she feels completely comfortable with the person. If she drinks, she makes sure never to leave her drink unattended, finishing her drink before leaving the table at all times.
“If I absolutely can’t leave it or finish it before I go to the bathroom, then I’ll cover it with something as a precaution,” Draeger said. “So I know if I come back, if the cover has moved, then I’m a little suspicious.”
Draeger also uses the Life360 app, where friends and family can see each other’s locations at any time. She said this app has been helpful in the past when her friends have been dating people they met online because they know that if something goes wrong, they know their last location.
Overall, it is important for students to trust their instincts and know to remove themselves from any situation that begins to feel dangerous.
“If something starts to feel weird in your gut and you’re like, ‘I don’t think I trust this person’, it’s totally okay to just say ‘hey, I’m not clicking with you”, Draeger mentioned. “And normally the bartenders or servers are normally…really good at making sure you get the help 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 Mail)
Ingham County Sheriff Office
Tx: (517) 483-6545
Personal Safety Guide or Obtaining a Personal Protection Order.
If you need help with a date at a bar in East Lansing, ordered:
Neat angel shot: an employee will help you with your car.
Angel shot with ice: an employee will call you an Uber or a Lyft to drive.
Whitewash angel: an employee will call the police.
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