Everything a Parent Needs to Know About MEETME
Parents may have heard of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, but there are hundreds of other apps out there that teens use to socialize. Although some apps bring teens together with friends and classmates, others focus on introducing teens to new people. One of these is known as MeetMe, an app designed to introduce users to new friends.
What exactly is MeetMe?
Formerly known as myYearbook, MeetMe is a social network that differentiates itself from others because it introduces people to new friends instead of connecting them to existing ones. Users can create a profile using either an email address or Facebook account. Once logged in, MeetMe members can be introduced to other users located nearby. You will be able to see profile pictures, basic information and choose to message MeetMe members if you would like. Users can also browse through the newsfeed of people nearby, which is similar to a stream of Facebook status updates.
What will you find on MeetMe?
Although marketed as a way to meet new friends, MeetMe is widely considered to be a dating app to find people nearby. There are a number of games available for users to play that feed into the dating app reputation, including the Blind Date game, where users are asked to answer questions to be introduced to a match. MeetMe also features an “Ask Me” feature, where anonymous questions can be sent to users. These questions are not monitored or censored, so the content can sometimes turn explicit. However, there are more teen-friendly games on MeetMe as well, including solitaire, air hockey, and crosswords.
MeetMe Credits is the currency used on MeetMe to unlock new features including customized search and “boosting” their profile, so more people can find them. To earn credits, users can either purchase it directly through the app or complete simple tasks such as logging in everyday, or interacting with other users or advertisers.
The Numbers Behind MeetMe
- There are more than one million daily active users on MeetMe.
- In 2012, MeetMe was named one of the 25 most trafficked websites.
- There is a minimum age limit of 13 on MeetMe, however since this is nearly impossible for the app to verify, it does not stop younger users from joining.
- There are over 100 million MeetMe users.
- About 25% of these users are between the ages of 13 and 17.
- MeetMe was named as one of the 6 adult dating apps that teens are using too much by The Huffington Post.
Dangers Facing Teens on MeetMe
Many teens innocently use MeetMe to be introduced to local people, however there are many dangers that come along with meeting strangers through social media. Because no profile information is verified, predators can easily pose as teens to befriend and lure other teens to meet in person. Many social networks carry the risk of teens encountering predators, however the fact that MeetMe matches users based on location elevates the possible danger. In fact, the San Francisco city attorney sued MeetMe in 2014 after three separate sex-crime cases that stemmed from conversations started on the app occurred in California.
Teens may not be aware that unless they log in to their accounts and manually change their privacy settings, the app will automatically have everything set up to be public. This means any MeetMe user in the area will be able to view your photos and information, so if your teen is on the app, alert him or her to change the privacy settings right away.
MeetMe also encourages teens to seek the approval of strangers through a feature called the “Spotlight.” Teens can purchase this feature using MeetMe Credits which will then put their profile in front of more potential matches and secret admirers, opening them up to even more danger.
The more teens are active on MeetMe, the more they are rewarded using credits. This could lead to teens spending too much time on the app and neglecting other important activities including homework, after school activities or spending time with their families.
With any app that includes private messaging and photo exchange, there is always the possibility that your teen could be cyberbullied. Other users could tease your teen based on his or her looks, values, or comments made on the app, leading to low self-esteem and emotional stress.
It may seem like it’s getting harder and harder to monitor your teen’s social media use since the number of apps keeps on growing, but it’s important that you do so. Although MeetMe can be harmless, it can also be incredibly dangerous for teens. Be sure to talk to your teen about communicating with strangers online, and make sure they know never to meet anyone in person that they’ve only talked to online.