back to article Tinder bans under-18s: Moral panic averted

Ubiquitous youth hook-up app, Tinder, is banning under-18s from using its service. Currently, self-declared teenagers between 13-17 are ring-fenced from adults in their own dating community, some 3 million strong. That is easy enough to shut down. With this decision, Tinder aims to head off the inevitable legal spats for …

  1. wolfetone Silver badge

    Yeah because no one has ever said they're 18 when they're quite clearly 15.

    1. John Lilburne

      And no one has ever said that they are <18 in order to interact with kids.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. John Robson Silver badge

    Why is 18 improbably old?

    Physical and emotional maturity are not attained at the same time...

    I know/knew far more people who had serious regrets about early sexual encounters than people who celebrated them unconditionally. The difference is more pronounced for one gender - but that's where emotional maturity is particularly important for the other...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

      It's improbably old because changing it from 16 to 18 doesn't stop 16 or 17 year olds from having sex.

      All it does is mean is that an 18 year olds life can be ruined if they sleep with their 17 year old boy/girlfriend and some prosecutor trying to look tough on crime in an election year decides to put them on a sex offenders register.

      Sure they may regret it when they are older but that's a completely different argument to the legal age. Emotional maturity doesn't magically happen at a certain age or at the same age for everyone. Trying to tie the legal age to something like that is pointless.

      The legal age is to protect against exploitation not teenage regrets.

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

        It depends a bit on exactly how the consent laws work in your neck of the woods.

        Quite a few countries have a more flexible approach, where if the ages people involved are within 2 years of each other, then there is a wider band for consent.

        As an example, NZ changed the law so that 16 is the standard age of consent (for straight and gays alike), but if the kids involved where within two years of each other then it's lowered to 14. Thus a 17 year old and 15 year old hooking up isn't statutory rape, but a 15 year old and a 20 year old is. Consent is also 18 for anyone where the other is is felt to have been in a position of responsibility.

        Or if you're a cop, you get to assume everyone consents....

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

            "but personally I would rather limit sexual relations and mariages for everyone to age +/- 10 %."

            Why? Some aesthetic about people's bodies? A mistaken belief that a person's physical age is always equal to a particular mental maturity age?

            Once people are judged by the State to be legally adults - then it is up to the couple as to what they see in each other and the effort they put into the relationship. The culture of a society should not stigmatise people or their children if things don't work out. Better an amicable parting than a family tearing itself to emotional shreds because the law demands it.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

              1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

                Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

                That's why the legislation should limit not only the age of consent for minors but for adults too.

                The most suited couple I know have a 15 year age difference. Neither is "abusing" the other. You think this relationship should be banned, and the wonderful family they have created should never have existed?

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

                  1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

                    Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

                    I knew such "most suited couple" where everything were perfect for the wealthy husband and his housewife until they divorce.

                    I am certainly not talking about a stepford couple. These argue, disagree, etc. However, they are both there for each other in the difficult times, resolve their differences, laugh and joke with each other, and generally just "fit". They are also amazing parents for their 4-year-old daughter. In all areas, they balance each other out and compliment each other.

                    This is my definition of "suited", not a couple who never argue and always smile.

                2. I am David Jones

                  Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

                  "The most suited couple I know have a 15 year age difference. Neither is "abusing" the other. You think this relationship should be banned, and the wonderful family they have created should never have existed?"

                  Banned? Of course not. Merely postponed... ;)

                3. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

                  The most suited couple I know have a 15 year age difference. Neither is "abusing" the other. You think this relationship should be banned, and the wonderful family they have created should never have existed?

                  Like the difference between Charles and Diana, so should he be on the sex offenders register now?

              2. h4rm0ny

                Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

                And what about those of us who turned eighteen and WANTED an older and more experienced partner? That's pretty common.

          2. David Neil

            Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

            So if you are 30 you could only have a relationship with anyone between 27 and 33?

            The real world will be a bit of a shock to you

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

              1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

                Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

                @AC

                How a 45 year old man could build a social life with a 18 girl that could be his (step) daugther?

                Just because you can't imagine something happening it doesn't mean it cannot happen. All it means is that it's probably not for you. So - move along and don't interfere with private lives of others...

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

            " but personally I would rather limit sexual relations and mariages for everyone to age +/- 10 %."

            Spoilsport!

          4. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

            personally I would rather limit sexual relations and mariages for everyone to age +/- 10 %.

            Once I reach the fine mature age of 98 I'll conform to your limit.

            In the meantime, I'd say "fuck you", but I prefer limiting that to the consensual relation I'm in.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

          5. Chemical Bob
            WTF?

            Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

            " I would rather limit sexual relations and mariages for everyone to age +/- 10 %."

            Wow. Just wow. You make the tight-assed Puritans look loose. My first marriage was to a woman only 70% of my age, my second to a woman only 76% my age. Neither of them would hit the -10% threshold until I am about 90 years old, at that age I'll be lucky to poop.

          6. lorisarvendu

            Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

            "...but personally I would rather limit sexual relations and mariages for everyone to age +/- 10 %."

            Again, weird that anyone should think that way.

            Between the ages of 21 and 26 I had girlfriends who were either around 5 years older than me or about 5 years younger. I never seem to have gone out with anyone the same age. Even now the age difference between me and my wife is...5 years.

            Come to think of it, my kids were born 5 years apart.

            Is the universe trying to tell me something?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

        Emotional maturity doesn't magically happen at a certain age or at the same age for everyone.

        Just look at most politicians..

      3. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

        @AC - Emotional maturity doesn't magically happen at a certain age or at the same age for everyone. Trying to tie the legal age to something like that is pointless.

        So why have a limit at all?

        @AC - The legal age is to protect against exploitation not teenage regrets.

        Actually it's there for protection of all sorts, not just exploitation. Teenage regrets are nothing compared with unplanned children in an unstable (or non existent) family.

        The limit is in place because there are consequences which cannot be reasonably accounted for by most teenagers - and we really ought to be protecting the less able teenagers. Sex isn't something that is required for life to continue, there is no significant detriment to having teenagers wait (I know of no-one who has regretted waiting).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

          "I know of no-one who has regretted waiting."

          Me, I'd have like to have started earlier.

          So that's one for you.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

            I dunno... I think I should have done... my first time was at 16 with another 16 year old behind a mates bird aviary.

            A sexual awakening it was not...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

              I dunno... I think I should have done... my first time was at 16 with another 16 year old behind a mates bird aviary.

              A sexual awakening it was not...

              Given the environment your problem may have been the use of the wrong kind of bird. The poor thing.

              :)

          3. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

            "I know of no-one who has regretted waiting."

            Me, I'd have like to have started earlier.

            So that's one for you.

            Says someone who won't introduce themselves. No I don't know you.

            Also that sounds more like 'wasn't offered' rather than 'waited'

        2. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

          Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

          "Sex isn't something that is required for life to continue"

          PEDANT ALERT!

          I think you'll find it is*, the human race would die out if noone had sex.

          * Although strictly speaking, it could be replaced by some form of artificial insemination or IVF procedure, but that's nowhere near as fun!

          1. Schultz
            Boffin

            Pendant Alert / "Sex isn't something that is required for life to continue"

            "Sex isn't something that is required for life to continue"

            PEDANT ALERT!

            I think you'll find it is*, the human race would die out if noone had sex.

            You just outed yourself as a horrible r̶a̶c̶i̶s̶t̶ speciist. Sex is only required if your definition of life excludes bacteria, amoeba, fungi, many kinds of plants, archea, protea, ... Speak for yourself only!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

            * Although strictly speaking, it could be replaced by some form of artificial insemination or IVF procedure, but that's nowhere near as fun!

            yeah, the old lesbian excuse

            BUT

            if you dont have a pool of unrelated sperm it's called "inbreeding" and illegal everywhere (except the US deep south and Birmimgham, UK)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

          "The limit is in place because there are consequences which cannot be reasonably accounted for by most teenagers - and we really ought to be protecting the less able teenagers."

          Many teenager girls with no interest in education see having a baby as a way to fulfil their lives. No age of consent laws will stop that. As many of our northern European neighbours have proved - reducing teenage pregnancies is down to a culture that values good education and good sex education.

          The laws in the UK raising the age to 16 were specifically to prevent exploitation by adults. Parliament failed miserably in drafting the Sexual Offences Act 2003 by not providing an age difference exemption - as they were urged to do. The result has been many teenagers being prosecuted for their relationship. Numerous middle class parents have chosen to condone, even facilitate, their children's love-life - while knowing they themselves are breaking the law in doing so.

          Developed economies need youngsters to stay in education to produce a set of modern skills. That has been conflated by many as also the need to keep them as "children" in their roles in society. The "moral panic" about paedophilia has been used to blur the lines between children and adolescents. That cultural attitude retards many youngsters' from developing maturity - both emotionally and logically.

          1. Ian 55

            SOA 2003

            A case of champagne was on offer from a minister for anyone who could come up with wording that reliably criminalised behaviour the vast majority of people should be illegal but exempted behaviour that the large majority of people don't think should be, despite happening 'under the age of consent'.

            No-one won it, including you.

            So we're left with the police deciding that any action in the latter examples would not be in the public interest. Not perfect, but it mostly works.

        4. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

          Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

          "I know of no-one who has regretted waiting"

          I'm another who regretted waiting. It built up sex in my head until it seemed one of the most important things in the world, which then caused problems in later relationships.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

            "I know of no-one who has regretted waiting"

            I'm another who regretted waiting. It built up sex in my head until it seemed one of the most important things in the world, which then caused problems in later relationships.

            That's a genuine response, and deserves a reply.

            Were the problems caused by waiting or by the unhealthy presentation of sex in the media* used in the meantime?

            *Mainstream or otherwise

            Because an unrealistic expectation isn't the sole preserve of the patient - would those problems have happened in earlier relationships? that might have been less able to deal with them?

            I don't know the answers to the above, they are just 'as thought' after reading your post, which obviously deserved a reply.

          2. DougS Silver badge

            Wow, a lot of people who want to impose their morals & ideas on others

            I'm glad the people who think you have to be within 10% of the age aren't in charge of the world! The majority of marriages would be invalidated. Just because you don't like an 18 year old dating a 45 year old doesn't mean there should be laws against it.

            You have to give decision making power to the individuals involved at some point when they become a legal adult. Whether that's 16, 18, 21 or whatever is up for the lawmakers and voters to decide, but once someone reaches that age it is their own damn business who they have date or have sex with! Stay the hell out of people's bedrooms, you pervs!

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

              1. DougS Silver badge

                @AC who wants to date my 18 year old daughter

                If I haven't raised a daughter well enough to think that's a bad idea, there's not much I can do to prevent it unless she's still living under my roof. Once a child is out on their own, they are a legal adult and make their own decisions. A parent may not like some of the decisions they make, but making laws to prevent bad decisions is pointless nanny statery.

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

                  1. DougS Silver badge

                    Re: @AC who wants to date my 18 year old daughter

                    You're seriously comparing an 18 year old human to a dog? There's no point in further discussion with such an utter moron.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

          "I know of no-one who has regretted waiting"

          A lot of youngsters before the 1960s got married because that was the only way UK society allowed you to have sex. Sex education was almost non-existent - basically "just say no" - and contraception was a taboo subject. So the result was a quick couple of kids, or more, and often a loveless marriage when the lust was satiated. Divorce was also nigh on impossible for most people.

          After the 1960s many religious bodies took a long time to realise their interpretation of dogma was denying their congregations their human rights - and some still don't.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

            "I know of no-one who has regretted waiting"

            A lot of youngsters before the 1960s got married because that was the only way UK society allowed you to have sex. Sex education was almost non-existent - basically "just say no" - and contraception was a taboo subject. So the result was a quick couple of kids, or more, and often a loveless marriage when the lust was satiated. Divorce was also nigh on impossible for most people.

            Again - that's a different problem.

            The lack of decent sex education is an issue - and frankly I don't envy anyone charged with providing that (and am not particularly looking forward to those discussions at home either) because most of the current generations never had a decent education it makes it much harder for us to talk about - and therefore harder to educate the next generation... ad nauseam...

            Don't get me wrong, sex is great - but the general presentation from the media is absurd.

      4. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

        Although legally 18 year old girls may consent to have sex with me, experience shows they seldom do.

        1. Kane Silver badge

          Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

          "Although legally 18 year old girls may consent to have sex with me, experience shows they seldom do."

          I'm finding it extremely difficult to parse that sentence. Do they seldom have sex with you, or do they seldom consent to have sex with you? The difference here is important!

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

        "

        Whatever people said, men are predators and women black widows.

        "

        You must have missed all the stories of women teachers having sex with underage boys. Which is just as prevalent as the other way about, but boys tend to brag about it rather than complaining.

        1. Matt Siddall

          Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

          I thought the proper rule was from (half your age +7) to (double your age -14) as per XKCD (https://xkcd.com/314/)

          1. VinceH Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

            "I thought the proper rule was from (half your age +7) to (double your age -14) as per XKCD (https://xkcd.com/314/)"

            That sounds sensible up to a point - but then you get to my age and look at the upper range that gives and think "EEEEEEWWWWWW!"

            Coat because... I'm putting the condoms back in the pocket! I'm not going there.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Shane McCarrick

    People still use Tinder?

    Thought it was going out of fashion in favour of Kiwi and other apps?

    Also- how the hell do they propose to police the age on it- it kids lie on just about every other platform out there- why will Tinder be any different?

    1. Craig 2

      Re: People still use Tinder?

      "Also- how the hell do they propose to police the age on it"

      Ahh, but as long as you LOOK like you care and put in some token controls, you can keep the moral high ground while still reaping the benefits of the (probably) most active demographic.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: People still use Tinder?

        Ahh, but as long as you LOOK like you care and put in some token controls, you can keep the moral high ground while still reaping the benefits of the (probably) most active demographic.

        Got it in one. It has nothing to do with ethics (it's a US business, so that was more or less a given) but everything with avoiding liability.

  4. John G Imrie Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Is that image for the story ...

    legal under the cartoon kiddy porn laws?

    And now I've got you all thinking about it it defiantly isn't

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the consequence is..?

    So previously, under-18s could register and be kept separate from over-18s

    Now, they have to lie about being over 18 to use the app (which they will do), but there's no segregation.

    Tinder have the satisfaction of CYA, but the users are worse off by far.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      @Anon ... Re: And the consequence is..?

      You miss the point.

      Yes, teens are going to hook up.

      The issue is that here in the US you have the following:

      1) A diverse culture with differing views on morality

      2) Too many lawyers.

      So Tinder has to question their culpability for promoting teenage sex as well as if a predator snuck in to the teen site by lying about his or her age.

      Remove the group, remove the risk.

      A teen sneaking on pretending to be an adult? If it happens and Tinder takes adequate precautions? It reduces the risk of lawsuits.

      The other question... how does Tinder monetize that age group?

      And ... what about the data collection laws concerning minors?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You aren't banned from dating and sex, you're just banned from Tinder...

    .... and if you lie about your age, Tinder is probably not accountable for it.

    There are many other things you can't do if you're not of age. You can try do it anyway (driving, buying alcohol, etc.), just if someone allows you knowingly they could be accountable. To avoid expensive consequences, or worse, some jail time, you may prefer to set an age lower limit.

  7. adam payne Silver badge

    It's just a few quick and simple token changes to try to help them avoid any legal problems further down the line.

    I'm sure they'll use the excuse they lied about their age so we aren't responsible for them line at some point in the future.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    think its because of crime

    Mentions of date crimes involving tinder are up drastically in the UK at least.

    think about it... if you want to meet a woman and do bad things to her you can hang out in a bar I guess where woman turn up for all manner of reasons... or hang out on tinder where you know every woman is looking for a date.

    1. tiesx150

      Re: think its because of crime

      Im pretty certain if you were intending to to commit a 'sex' crime you would not want to get caught and you avoid the app like the plague, using tinder is not a great start.

      I doubt many women would entertain going anywhere alone with someone they met on tinder who didn't have a photo online or turned out to be not the person in the photo they posted!

      If your hookup gets a bit frisky and things get out of hand then theres a nice mug shot to hand over to the cops. Yes yes i know that people can set up fake FB accounts / details but it takes a very smart individual to have an online presence and interact with legitimate honest individuals and then cover their tracks unless they have quite a comprehensive technical knowledge (most of the readers here? ;) ).

      The number of crims that cant explain why they alibi locations vary from from cell tower location data never ceases to amaze me.

      The hardest crimes to solve are the random and not premeditated ones

      The hardest crims to catch are the ones that are totally off the grid, no phone no internet presence no social networks.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Ian 55

    Spotlight

    First promoted story: 'Which keys should I press to enable the CockUp feature?'

    Someone's having a laugh, aren't they?

  11. Geoffrey W Silver badge

    RE: Lots of these comments

    Tech nerds and geeks offering thoughts and advice on sex and relationships is a sad thing to behold.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Tech nerds and geeks offering thoughts and advice on sex and relationships is a sad thing to behold."

      Which seems to encapsulate the attitude of those who think they have the monopoly on the moral high ground by right of some unspecified reason.

      In over 50 years I have lost count of the number of people who have come to me for unbiased, non-judgemental advice on those sensitive subjects. From teenagers to pensioners.

      Tech nerds and geeks can be very good at extrapolating the uncertainties and risks of any course of action. We have been trained by experience to seek information in the form of facts as well as people's anecdotal experiences. We are well acquainted with factoring in the apparent irrationality of circumstances and human nature. Then we make some sense of it against a background of currently changing circumstances.

      My advice to people is always: this is what your family circle probably think; this is what various other parts of society think; this is what I think. Then I let them discuss these points to come to an understanding of what stance they want to adopt.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Speak for yourself Geoffrey. Not all geeks and nerds fit the TV/Movie stereotypes some of use have considerable life experience.

  12. Sauraus
    Trollface

    Let's not forget it's OK to carry a gun at 16... but sex...tsk tsk tsk.

    1. John PM Chappell

      It's not generally permitted for 16 year olds to be in possession of firearms, outside specific supervised situations. So, no. A better example, given this is a US thing, would be driving - I remain boggled by the notion that we should allow 15 year olds to drive, but not permit them to buy legal intoxicants, vote, etc.

      The idea that you need to be 21 to buy alcohol is patently ridiculous. I don't even think 18 is a sensible limit for permitted consumption, on balance.

      However, Tinder has to work in the social and legal framework they find around them, which means this is probably a smart move, even though they tried to do the right thing, first.

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