Today, online dating is commonplace. Certain people are lucky enough find ‘the one’ and enjoy a successful relationship, but some people experience the exact opposite – you may have heard stories from friends who met someone online, and it resulted in contacting an STI or even an unintended pregnancy.
Here are some online dating tips to help you stay safe.
Five online dating safety tips
Only use quality, secure dating sites
Unfortunately, not all dating sites/apps are secure and may contain malware that will infect your computer and access your sensitive information such as credit card details and passwords.
Ways to check if the site/app is safe include
- Make sure the site is secure.
- If you’re using a mobile app, check if it’s been verified by Google Play Store (for Android devices) or Apple Store (for Apple devices).
- Use Google’s ‘safe browsing’ mode.
Know the signs of catfishing
Ever heard of catfishing? Essentially, a person creates a fake persona which is put on dating sites and/or mobile apps. Signs include
- He tries to get your phone number as quickly as possible
- Texts frequently and doesn’t want to meet you
- There are no photos of his face on his profile
- Never wants to talk on the phone
Learn how to reverse image search
This is a nifty trick to find out who you’re really talking to online. An article uploaded onto Business Insider South Africa, explains the steps to perform a reverse image search: ‘You’ll need to download the Google Chrome app to do a reverse image search on your smartphone.
- Open images.google.com on the Chrome app.
- Describe the image you want to search.
- Tap the search icon. Chrome will give you images that match your search terms.
- Choose an image to search. Hold your finger on the image until a menu pops up.
- Choose “Search Google for this image” to find similar images and related pages.
- The search results default to images. Tap the categories above your search to see all sites related to your search terms, videos, news, and more.’
Don’t agree to a date right away
Take some time to chat with the guy you’ve virtually met. You need to learn as much as possible about them so that you have a good sense of his character. If he’s genuinely interested in meeting you, he won’t pressure you to meet and agree to learn more about you too.
Tell your friend and ‘check-in with them.’
Tell one of your friends that you’ve met someone online, or through a mobile app, and are going to meet them. Send him/her the time and place of your date and check in with them so that they know you are safe. It’s also a good idea to send them a location pin when you get to the place.
How Marie Stopes can help you
If everything works out well and you both decide to take things further, please practice safe sex. Visit your nearest Marie Stopes centre for contraceptive advice. It’s also essential that you both have HIV and STI tests.