Two of South Africa’s leading experts on relationships and technology warn women to be alert using smartphone dating apps. During Women’s Month in August, reports from NPRi in the USA, raised alarm bells on gross privacy violations via GPS built into all smartphones.
“Whilst I am a keen supporter of social media as the modern way of connecting, communicating, making love, caution must be exercised to counter the feeling of ‘real life,’ says Marlene Wasserman, Clinical Sexologist also known as Dr Eve. “This ‘real life’ feel disarms people, enabling them to take risks which they would not do in real life. Placing a GPS dating app into your hands increases a woman’s risk factor- women generally are not free/safe in public space.”
The new breed of smartphone apps uses GPS to help singles locate potential mates nearby. While men are enthusiastic about the apps, women have been slower to adopt them. Far more men than women are signing up for the services and these apps. The app Grindrii, for gay men, has more than 4 million users worldwide.
“People have looked to the Internet to find friendship or love for more than 20 years, first using dial-up bulletin boards, IRC, Internet dating, online social networking and now mobile apps,” says Ramon Thomas, author of a new book, The Psychology of Technology (2012). “Safety concerns aren’t the only reason for the gender imbalance in mobile dating. Women use smartphones for different reasons.”
New research by World Wide Worx reports at the end of August 2012, 5.3 million South Africans were using Facebook, 2.4 million were on Twitter and 9.4 million on MXit. WhatsApp has become the leading instant messaging tool among South Africans aged 16 and over, living in cities and towns, with a user base of 4.6 million. The most common “Check In” sites for Facebook in South Africa are airports and shopping malls.
More and more apps use geo-locating ability to offer you local weather forecasting or find nearby restaurants. There are dozens of GPS dating apps to choose from: SinglesAroundMe, MeetMoi, Badoo, Assisted Serendipity and Skout, just to name a few.
The vast majority of users are men. Naturally, when it comes to matching straight couples, that knocks the whole system out of whack. For matching to work, you have to have enough women. But a lot of women say they’re afraid of being harassed if they use these apps.
“It is the dumbest thing,” says Rose Mlambo, a young fashionista in Sandton. “You’re just going to see a huge increase in sexual assault and date rape because people can find out exactly where you are and exactly how many drinks you’ve had.”
Ramon Thomas BSc PDIM
Mobile: 081 4399 555
Dr Marlene Wasserman DHS
Tel 021 439 4004
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