'Sex App' Consumers Warned Against Hooking Up With Underage Users

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The National Crime Agency (NCA) have posed a warning to those who use sex apps to "hook up" that they must check their partner is above the age of consent.

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Sex Apps Putting Children in Danger

The NSPCC helpline have reported that they have had an increase in teenagers contacting them with bad experiences after downloading "hook up" apps, such and Grindr and Blendr – both made by the same company. The app designers say users need to confirm their age (usually that they are above 17). However, stories appear in the media like that of a 13-year-old boy who was groomed by a 24 year old man after using an app to meet up.

Bringing Sex Abusers Closer to Vulnerable Children

These 'sex apps' are free to download making them readily available to any man, woman or, as demonstrated, child.

These types of apps are "geosocial", allowing users to pinpoint other users, sometimes within a metre, whereas other sites may only tell you what town someone is in. This has made them popular with those who prefer to meet up for casual sex – potentially making these apps more dangerous than could have been anticipated for vulnerable children. They are more accurate at pin-pointing a location than most young people could imagine.

Claire Lilley, head of child safety online for the NSPCC, has commented that there are "terms and conditions in place" when people download the apps, however, "they are not being enforced", putting children at risk.The adult is always responsible in this situation, no matter how the conversation began or who is believed to be in the "driving seat". The child should never be blamed. The Department of Culture Media and Sport commented, saying terms of use are not enforceable by law but are added voluntarily by app developers.

Helen Stanton, an Associate for Simpson Millar LLP said, "Young people are increasingly exposed to risk via the internet by game and app-hosters. Designers must face up to their responsibility in protecting them from paedophiles that prey on the young and vulnerable."


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