Right-swipes and warning flags exactly how teenagers negotiate sex and safety on dating apps


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

Associate professor in Media and Communications, Swinburne University of tech

Disclosure statement

Kath Albury receives funding through the Australian Research Council while the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation. The Safety danger and health on Dating Apps task is definitely an ARC Linkage partnership with ACON Health and Family Planning 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 money being member for the discussion AU.

The discussion UK gets funding from all of these organisations

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

Our research that is new shows apps can enhance young people’s social connections, friendships and intimate relationships. However they can be a way to obtain frustration, rejection and exclusion.

Our research could be the very first to ask app users of diverse genders and sexualities to generally share their experiences of software usage, well-being and safety. The task combined a survey that is online interviews and imaginative workshops in metropolitan and local brand brand New Southern Wales with 18 to 35 12 months olds.

While dating apps were used to satisfy individuals mail order brides for sex and long-lasting relationships, these were more widely used to “relieve boredom” as well as for “chat”.

Typically the most popular apps used had been Tinder (among LGBTQ+ ladies, right gents and ladies), Grindr (LGBTQ+ guys), okay Cupid (for non-binary individuals), and Bumble (right females).

Dating apps can be utilized to ease monotony and for talk. Oleg Ivanov/Unsplash

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

Secure consent and sex

Nearly all study participants frequently employed condoms for safe intercourse. Over 90% of right both women and men frequently employed condoms.

Just over one-third of homosexual, bisexual and queer males commonly used PreP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to stop HIV transmission.

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

Amber (22, bisexual, female, regional) stated she ended up being “always the one which has got to start a intercourse talk over messages”. She used chat to talk about exactly just just what she liked, to say her need for condom usage, to provide a free account of her very own sexual wellness, and also to feel “safer”.

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

Warning flags

Numerous individuals talked about their methods of reading a profile for “red flags”, or indicators that their real or psychological security might be at an increased risk. Warning flags included not enough information, uncertain pictures, and profile text that indicated sexism, racism, as well as other qualities that are undesirable.

Uncertain pictures is a flag that is red dating apps. Daria Nepriakhina/Unsplash

Apps that want a shared match before messaging (where both events swipe right) had been observed to filter a lot out of undesirable conversation.

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

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

nude pictures totally unsolicited or even the first message that I have away from you is simply five images of one’s cock. I might believe that’s a right up signal that you’re not planning to respect my boundaries … So I’m perhaps not planning to have a way to say no for your requirements when we meet in real world.

Negotiating permission

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

Of 382 study participants, feminine respondents (of all of the sexualities) had been 3.6 times very likely to would you like to see information that is app-based sexual permission than male individuals.

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

It is a fun discussion. It doesn’t need to be sexting, it doesn’t need to be super sexy … We just desire it absolutely was easier simply to talk about intercourse in a non-sexual means. All of the girls which are my buddies, they’re like, “it’s way too embarrassing, we don’t speak about sex having a guy”, not when they’re making love.

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

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

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

Security precautions

Meeting up, women, non-binary people and men who had sex with men described safety strategies that involved sharing their location with friends when it came to.

Ruby (29, bisexual, feminine, metropolitan) had an on-line group talk with buddies where they’d share information on whom these were ending up in, as well as others described telling feminine nearest and dearest where they planned become.

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

If at any point We deliver them an email about sport, they already know that shit is certainly going down … So if We deliver them an email like, “How could 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 buddies once 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 dissatisfaction

For all individuals, dating apps supplied a place for pleasure, play, linking with community or fulfilling new individuals. For other people, app usage could possibly be stressful or annoying.

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

absolutely 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 could be frustrating and stressful. Kari Shea/Unsplash

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