What is Online Dating?
Online dating refers to services offered to allow users to meet, mingle and communicate with groups and individuals over the web- with the aim of finding personal romantic relationships. You must know that while a dating site is a free service, companies earn through it by collecting member information for sale and pay-per-click advertising online. The United States projects dating site industry to gross $900 million of sales this year.
What do users do in an Online Dating service?
Activities can include organized ones like speed dating, profile matchmaking, video dating or playing virtual games. Less formal activities would be random chatting, text-mates (very common), and eyeball. Users engaged in such activities range from 12 years up to 58 years old, mostly female. Contrary to what most searchers believe, online dating encompasses all means of electronic communication including mobile phones as long as the communication is romantic in nature with someone you don’t personally know.
What are the main reasons why a user join a dating site? Isn’t a face-to-face interaction enough?
- Users are comfortable meeting people on chat rather than talking in person will likely to try out online dating.
- Women said they feel “safer” in using a dating service, get to know a potential suitors first, before meeting them in person. This is very similar to pen-pal columns we used in the 90’s.
- Men resort to online dating because it is easier to get somebody who is already willing and no more courtship needed.
- Saves money from spending on actual dates, if the male user is not yet sure about the potential partner.
- Dating sites allows users to check as much profiles they can connect to, make a comparison and communicate to the “best”.
- Economic- ex: females want to set-up with a retired foreigner they can marry for a possible economic improvement (sounds familiar?).
What are the Benefits?
- Cost-effective, no need to spend money to salon, eat-out and movie dates.
- Fun & engaging with a sense of adventure since you are communicating with people you don’t know.
- Allows you more freedom to express yourself the way you use Facebook.
What are the Consequences?
Identity fraud– there are organized groups who join social dating sites to create fake profiles with very attractive photos to build contact lists. These scammers send spam through emails in bulk, in hopes that some vulnerable person will respond. If they can get access to very personal information such as credit cards, then the victim is likely to get unauthorized charges on her credit card.
This is an actual sample of a modus-operandi from a friend of mine. The con is trying to get legal access to the country of the victim.
I woke up this morning thinking of you. I still cant get over the photos you sent me, you are so beautiful. I want to see you so I plan to go there in your country to visit you and meet your family by next month and since you are the only person I know, please help me.
Please you draft me a letter (with signature) stating that I am going to visit you and I am staying in your place. Your country’s embassy is also asking for a bank account as a means of show money. If you wouldn’t mind, I really need your help if you would share your bank account number, so I can prove to the embassy officials that we are indeed more than friends and I am going there to marry you. This is the only way to get my visa approved fast.
I am really looking forward to see you.
Extortion- This happens when a victim provided too much like nude photos or sexy videos to the con artist. The con on the other hand will try to extort money by threatening to expose the said photos or videos in the internet. This problem need the help of the authorities such as the police.
Date Rape-Happens when the victim agrees to meet the scrupulous predator alone. Numerous cases of teens being molested by people they just met through SMS texting. This will only be prevented if the family are open to each other’s whereabouts. If parents cannot talk about dating eyeball to their teens, who then will?
Are females the only ones vulnerable of these risks?
Nope. Men can be gullible enough to send gifts & money to impress a virtual girlfriend -without knowing that the person behind the sexy photo is a man, posing as a female user.
Anybody ever considering a online dating service or SMS text to meet potential romance, at least consider these measures:
- You have to be at least 21 years of age before ever considering joining such sites. Anybody below that age is a big no-no.
- Ask your self why you have to try online dating. Talk to your family and other friends about it. Let them know what you are up to. The more reactions you receive, the better understanding you can get.
- Know what you will be expecting once you decide to be romantic online. Western men can expect you to be a go-getter, a woman in need.., so you have to ready to handle such communication from other cultures.
- Always stay on guard while having fun. You can talk about likes, hobbies and do normal chat to an online date. Just refrain yourself from trusting too much.
- Implement strict security measures for your safety- never be vulnerable to sweet requests for you to send anything to a suitor, READ: candid photos, videos, personal information and money.
- Unless you completely checked this person, never ever meet any suitor for the first time alone. Always have somebody to watch over you.
- The BEST TIP: If you are not sure, quit considering of using such service and stick to the old fashioned way, go out and meet some people.
We do hear of success stories of couple who met online as well as not-so-fortunate incidents. The idea is to be mature, objective and alert. Avoid con artists by checking the suitors’ credibility outside the beautifully posted profile photo. Maker sure that your activities are known by the family so they can back you up in time of need. Remember that dating is a normal part of growing-up, whether you do it off-line or online, you just have to be extra careful. Good luck on your quest for true love.
Maribeth Oliver is a home-based micro-entrepreneur, writer and a mom.