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“And it doesn’t matter what the gender is; if it’s the female that is the older one, she’s the one in trouble,” said Nguyen.
That means, for example, that teens as close as a 15 and a 17 year old or a 14 and 16 year old, depending on their birthdates, could be in violation of the law if their relationship becomes sexual in nature.“Just dating in and of itself isn’t illegal,” said Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander.
That’s what Alyssa did and how she ended up listed as 18. “If you’re 16 but saying you’re 19, that will put you in an uncomfortable situation should you meet up. Some 18- and 19-year-olds whom Alyssa swiped right on were overtly sexual. (Some popular dating apps, including Hinge and Happn, don’t allow anyone under 18 to join; others like Meet Me and Bumble, on the other hand, do.)Perhaps because of these risks, many teens seem to be cautious.
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Alyssa, 17, a high school senior in Miami, was texting a new guy she thought was cute. New York magazine’s The Cut website described the Tinder crowd as “single people who hang out at bars,” and it’s become known for facilitating hookups and last-minute dates among those in their 20s and 30s.
They were setting up a date when he sent a message that shocked her. To enter a bar, however, you usually have to be 21; the age of admission to Tinder is just 13—and Alyssa’s hardly the only teen on the app.
Charges can range from fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct all the way up to an automatic felony if it’s proven there was sexual penetration.
It could mean jail time, it could mean having to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
If you do the math based on a late-2014 story in The New York Times, which reported that the app had nearly 50 million active users at the time, you’re left with well over a million users under 18 on the platform.