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Gay and bisexual teens are using Grindr to find friends and relationships, says study

Ella Braidwood May 21, 2018
Grindr, the gay dating app

Code words and symbols are used to refer to drugs on the app (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Gay and bisexual teenage boys are using adult gay dating apps like Grindr and Scruff to find friends and boyfriends, according to new research.

The study by Northwestern University, and published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that more than 50 percent of teenage boys aged between 14 and 17 are using these apps, at least in part, with a view to finding more than just sex.

Both Grindr and Scruff require app users to be a minimum age of 18 in their terms of service policies.

The research was carried out using online surveys completed by 200 sexually experienced teenage boys in the US and is the first known study on the subject.

Dr Kathryn Macapagal, the author of study, told Chicago Tribune: “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.”

Scruff dating app (Scruff)

Macapagal, who is assistant professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, added: “Youth who use these apps are, many times, also looking for partners on Facebook, Instagram, Tinder…If you’re using something like Grindr, the likelihood of you having a sexual relationship with this person is higher.

“But we also found that although you might have had sexual relations with these folks, these folks might have turned into friends, they might have turned into boyfriends.

“So there is some evidence that youth are getting lots more out of these apps than just sexual relationships.”

A gay couple in bed
A gay couple in bed (rt69/flickr.com)

PinkNews has contacted Grindr and Scruff to comment both on the results and on evidence that people are using their apps who are below the minimum age requirements by entering false date of birth details.

In a statement to Chicago Tribue, a Grindr spokesperson said: “Grindr does not condone illegal or improper behaviour 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.”

Grindr
(Photo by Leon Neal/Getty)

The study also concluded that teenage boys using apps Grindr and Scruff are more likely to access sexual health services, like HIV testing.

Macapagal explained: “Gay and bisexual adolescent boys account for almost two-thirds of HIV infections among teenagers in the United States, but unfortunately sex education and HIV prevention tailored to their needs is almost nonexistent.

“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.”

More: Grindr, scruff, US

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