A member of the sub-Reddit r/askgaybros whose handle is YeetYeet3199 wrote a short powerful call-to-action: If you’re not 18 please stay the fuck off Grindr.
He writes: I’m tired of seeing teenagers lie about their age. You have no business on Grindr, Scruff or the other apps. Look for other ways to explore your identity and sexuality. The gay community is already unfairly, disproportionately painted as pedophiles and predators. You being on the app only hurts you and the whole community. It only takes one bad news story to set gay rights back decades just because you were horny. There are too many consequences for it to be with it.
Yes it sucks being a lonely gay teen in the middle of nowhere but that isn’t an excuse. You will be taken advantage of creepy perverted old men or even creepy perverted young guys in their 20s. They only want you as a sick fetish for your youth. If they can’t do the bare minimum of 18 what’s stopping them for going younger. You do not need to give them your body. Ten years from now you will likely regret hooking up with that older dude (in his 20s or 40s or 60s or whatever) and it will likely lead to an unhealthy understanding of sex, love and relationships.
Do yourself a favor and wait until you’re 18 (or even older tbh) before getting on these apps.
Lying about your age on these apps is so ubiquitous that people seem to have forgotten not only is it illegal, it’s dangerous.
The most famous underage Grindr user was probably pop superstar Troye Sivan told Attitude Magazine in 2018:
All my friends were hooking up with random people at parties, and I just felt so left behind because I didn’t know gay people, I didn’t know where to meet gay people.
“I just did stuff that a 17-year-old boy shouldn’t really have to do.” Troye Sivan
I didn’t really want to venture out by myself and so I just did stuff that a 17-year-old boy shouldn’t really have to do.
I managed to get a fake ID and then I got Grindr on my phone and started to try to meet people who were like me, but you sort of are forced a little bit into these hyper-sexualized environments, and even though that’s awesome when you’re 17… I didn’t know what else to do.
My heart must have been going a million miles an hour. I don’t remember specifically but, because I was always so small, I was so scared to meet up with people because I was like, ‘I’m going to get killed, I’m going to get murdered by someone.’
When I see photos of myself, from when I was that age, and I think of the guys that I was meeting up with and talking to, I think: ‘Wow, I looked really, really young.’
[It makes me feel] Kind of a little bit creeped-out, but at the same time I really don’t have any regrets. Maybe I wasn’t ever truly scared, just really uncomfortable.
There’s actually a song about it on the album called ’17’… Originally the chorus of the song was ‘Here he comes, like he just walked out of a dream, doesn’t care that you’re 17’. And I was like ‘uh, that sounds a bit predatory’, and maybe it was a little bit.
However a study sited by British magazine i-D suggested that younger users employed the app differently than adults. According to i-D: The Journal of Adolescent Health took a survey of 200 sexually active teenage boys from ages 14 to 17, and found that more than 50% of them said they used Grindr and other hookup apps for more than just sex. This is despite the apps being 18+, which as we know, has never stopped anyone from looking at porn.
The study’s been seized upon as showing that Grindr and its ilk provide a sense of community for often closeted teens. “We found that teens in this study were super excited that somebody was paying attention with what was going on in their lives, and how these apps played a role in their sexual development and coming-out process,” Dr. Kathryn Macapagal told the Chicago Tribune when asked about the survey. “I was surprised we didn’t know this information when we started the study, but a lot of folks don’t do research on people under the age of 18, especially on LGBT teens under the age of 18, for a variety of reasons.”
While those polled reported greater risk of unprotected sex, they also had greater odds of getting tested for HIV and more engagement with sexual health services. “The sooner we understand the role these apps play in the lives of gay and bisexual teen guys, the sooner we will be able to tailor sex education and HIV prevention efforts for this population and help them live healthier lives” added Dr. Macapagal. Grindr, obviously, released a predictably lame statement that will do nothing either to stem the tide of sexually active teens using dating apps, or reassure adults who worry about them. “Grindr does not condone illegal or improper behavior and we are troubled that an underage person may have been using our app in violation of our terms of service. Grindr services are only available for adults. Grindr encourages anyone aware of any illegal or improper activity on the app to submit a report either within the app or via email.”