How to ‘Online Date’ Safely in 2020

By on Aug 12, 2020

If you are a young person looking for your ‘special someone’ then 2020 would have seriously cramped your style. Whether you’ve been in lockdown, working from home or simply staying home to stay well, your social life would have taken a hit. So, it comes as no surprise that dating sites have become the playground for young people – in fact all aged people – who are ‘looking for love’.

The New Normal

Our ‘in-person’ social lives look a whole lot different to 2019. Over the last six months, we’ve all been living with a barrage of new restrictions which has meant a lot of time at home. Earlier in 2020, many cities effectively closed-up while others – such as Melbourne – recently imposed a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. In NSW, cafes, pubs, and restaurants reopened but with tight restrictions on the number of people allowed inside. My older boys spent a few Saturday nights lining up to get into the local pub but ended up returning home to the couch.

And of course, it goes without saying that protecting our people should be the biggest priority, but it has taken a toll on our ability to socialise and connect with others.

Most Aussies Now Meet Their Partners Online

One of my oldest friends found the love of her life online. 15 years later and all is going swimmingly! She was an Aussie and he was an Englishman – but it didn’t matter – love prevailed! There is no humanly possible way, these two would have connected if it wasn’t for the wonders of technology.

A recent survey of over 54,000 Australians by the ABC – the Australia Talks National Survey showed that more people meet their partner online than anywhere else and in fact – it has been that way since 2010! And of the Aussies who met their partners in 2019 – 1/3 made the connection online. So, even before 2020 – people were looking online to find a match.

But add in a global pandemic and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to predict that these statistics will only increase!

Proceed with Caution

With so many people, understandably, feeling isolated and lonely, online dating is a wonderful way to make connections – both romantic and platonic. But you do need to have your wits about you to stay safe.

Scammers will often prey on our need to feel connected to each other and expend a lot of energy developing relationships for all the wrong reasons. So, if you have a teen or young adult in your house who is directing their energies into online dating sites, then please check in with them to ensure they are being safe.

Here are my top tips on staying safe while you look for love online:

  1. Don’t Get Too Personal – While it might feel harmless sharing your name, location and occupation to your new online friends, it doesn’t take much for a scammer to piece together your details to access your personal info, bank accounts or even steal your identity. Never use your full name on dating sites and only share what is absolutely necessary!
  2. Do Your Homework – Before you meet someone in person after meeting them online, always do your homework. A Google search is a great place to start and even using Google Images will help you get a better understanding of a person. Don’t forget to check out their LinkedIn account too. And why not investigate whether you might have mutual friends? If so, ask them for their ‘2 cents worth’ too.
  3. Think Before You Send – Sharing sexy pics or videos with the person you are dating online might seem like a good idea in the moment but please consider how this could affect you in the future. Once those pictures and videos are online, they are online forever. Even social media apps that say pictures go away after a few seconds can be easily circumvented with a screenshot.  It’s not just celebrities who have intimate pictures spread around the Internet!
  4. Make passwords a priority – Ensure all your online dating and social media accounts, and all your devices, have separate and unique passwords. Ideally, each password should have a combination of lower- and upper-case letters, numbers, and special characters. I love using a nonsensical, crazy sentence!

 

One of the greatest lessons of 2020 for me is our need for human connection.

My biggest takeout from 2020? Humans need other humans to not only survive but thrive. So, if you’re looking for your life partner – or even companionship – the online world may be the perfect way for the moment. But, please – exercise caution and be safe – because as I say to my boys all the time – trust your gut, because it’s usually right!

Stay safe

Alex x

 

About the Author

Cyber Safety Ambassador

McAfee’s Cyber Safety Ambassador for Australia and New Zealand, Alex, is a mother of four boys who juggles family, work, home life, hobbies and her children’s ever growing social lives (on and offline). Like many parents, Alex has concerns about the safety of her children, who are growing up online world. Alex’s blogs are about ...

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