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Sep 22, 2018
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Liana Whitehead

INTERNET INTIMACY: A guide to safe online dating

Liana Whitehead

As technology’s limitless progression occurs before our eyes, students are offered easy alternatives for every day circumstances. With the invention of smart phones and tablets, we are able to carry a world of convenience in our pockets and book bags. Some of these amenities include email, social networking, Blackboard, daily e-newspapers, music, games — I can go on for days.

One not-so-new development in particular is taking the college nation by storm. Relationships whether platonic or romantic — are budding and blossoming over computer monitors all over the world, and more students are joining the online dating revolution.

I’ve always been wary of online dating after experiencing some not-so-happily-ever-afters of my own. But as 2013 grows closer, so have student relationships powered by the Internet.

The online dating frenzy is now worth a whopping $1.9 billion — a massive increase since its $900 million worth in 2007, according to the Infographic Journal.

So, needless to say, the virtual dating scene is making waves — tsunamis, rather — and it’s important for students and other young adults to understand the pros and cons of Internet intimacy.

The biggest mistake we can make is going into this without educating ourselves first. Our safety is on the line, after all.

An article on hercampus.com states that the “number one fear of male online daters is that the person they connect with online will look different in person. The number one fear of females is that they will meet a serial killer.” The site also stated that men tend to lie about their age, height and income, whereas women are dishonest about their weight, physical build and age.

Are you nodding in agreement? I think I speak on behalf of most college-aged women when I say yes, I am afraid of marrying an ax murderer. I cannot speak for the men out there, but I imagine women lying on their profiles is irritating, to say the least.

So how can we, as women and men, protect ourselves from Internet predators?

An important thing to look for on any dating website is its security features. For one, people should not be able to search for specific dating profiles using Google or other search engines. These sites do exist — you just have to look carefully. Viewers should also be required to become members, which is the case on most dating websites today, but not all.

Another way to ensure your safety is editing “page view” options. This means you can block specific users and pick-and-choose who is allowed to view your profile. Lastly, if you do create a dating profile, don’t provide specifics and keep personal details to a minimum. It is smarter to present your likes and dislikes or preferences in a mate rather than posting your home address and blood type.

To ensure you are visiting decent, legitimate dating sites, look for important attributes such as personalized questionnaires — these give you the option to narrow your search for love and focus on the most vital characteristics in a potential mate.

If you are into mountain climbing and mile runs, you probably will not hit it off with a full-time couch potato. Websites that offer personality questionnaires are likely to be more effective than those simply requiring a username and favorite pickup line placed above a tasteless profile picture.

In an article published on infographicjournal.com, it suggests that 64 percent of online daters believe that common interests are the most vital factors in finding love online. It also states that 49 percent of daters base their online dating experience on the physical characteristics

Reading questionnaires and completing one of your own allows you to vicariously pick a person’s brain and lessen your chances of connecting with a polar opposite.

If college students are hoping to solely connect with other students, it would be smart to join a student-only dating or friendship site. This may not be a foolproof way of avoiding a bad match, but at least you can be sure they are within your age preference and share similar educational goals.

Even though the Internet will never be a completely safe place to meet the future Mr. or Mrs., there are ways you can protect yourself in the process. As long as we, as students, take safety precautions and stay skeptical and aware, it is very possible to make genuine, long-lasting connections online.

Over 17 percent of today’s married couples met online and one in five “singles” are in a long-term relationship with a partner they met on a dating site. As time goes on, these numbers are sure to rise as technology continues to bridge the gap between people and machines, or in this case, the space between two people searching for love.

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