Kaity Elisa (name has been changed), a student at BYU-Idaho, said she met her husband on a social media app, but before this success she encountered many men with ill intentions.
Elisa said there was one guy in particular that showed potential, but that notion quickly dissipated. She said they hung out with friends on the first date, which made it enjoyable, but the second date was very different.
“On the second date, he went and pulled off somewhere,” Elisa said. “The next thing I knew, he was all over me and tried sticking his hands down my pants. I said, ‘No, what are you doing?’ He was like, ‘Come on, don’t you want to have some fun?’”
Elisa said she downloaded Tinder because she hoped Rexburg would have a better dating environment than what she had experienced back home. She said it turned out to be the opposite of what she expected.
“I know there’s people on there that certainly don’t have good intentions whatsoever,” said James Athens (name has been changed), a bishop of a Rexburg YSA ward.
Athens said there are individuals who are predatory in nature and turn to dating apps because they see innocent people who may be gullible.
“We’re not immune to predators who utilize social media apps to perpetrate on unsuspecting victims,” said Nick Rammel, the associate dean of students. “We encourage all students to exercise good judgment and caution when interacting with others on these sites/apps.”
Since the beginning of the year, there have been over 100 million Tinder downloads, over 9 billion accumulated matches with 26 million per day and over 1.4 billion swipes per day, according to DMR Digital Statistics Gadgets/Fun.
“Nobody joins Tinder because they’re looking for something,” said Sean Rad, the CEO of Tinder, in an article for TIME, titled, “Inside Tinder: Meet the Guys Who Turned Dating Into an Addiction.” “They join because they want to have fun. It doesn’t even matter if you match because swiping is so fun.”
Rad said the original intent of Tinder was to create an app that acted like an addictive game.
“People tend to think it’s exciting to be able to use social media like that,” Athens said.
Cole Ratcliffe, a faculty member in the home and family department, said there is a lustful component to swiping through faces.
“You are going to feed your lust if that is all you are doing,” Ratcliffe said.
Athens said individuals can easily post false information about themselves. He said it could become more than a problem with morality.
“It can get you into dangerous things,” Athens said.
He said an individual could be committing a federal offense by sexually interacting with underage children without knowing it.
Anne Puten (name has been changed), a BYU-I student, said she encountered a dangerous situation through another social media app called Yik Yak. She said her date arranged for them to experience a night at the straw maze as a group, but, once they arrived, the atmosphere changed.
“All of the sudden, he lunged at me and kissed me, and I tried to stop him, but he kept kissing me,” Puten said.
Puten said he lied about the group date with his friends, which she said scared her more.
Puten said that once they were in the maze, he led her away from the group of people, which she said gave her an eerie feeling.
“He continuously tried to touch me inappropriately, and every time we would hit a dead end, he would try and kiss me,” she said.
Puten said that when they left, he took her the long way home, giving her a sense of panic.
Puten said she felt so threatened, she told her roommates to call for help if she did not return home soon.
Puten said that at the end of the date, she felt defiled and nauseated.
Puten said she was unaware of resources for victims on campus.
“People didn’t tell me anything about what I should’ve done,” Puten said. “I would’ve used them if I had known.”
BYU-I students are protected against sexual misconduct of any kind and are encouraged to report offenses to the Title IX Coordinator in the Spencer W. Kimball Student and Administrative Services Building 290 or by calling 208-496-9200, according to the BYU-I Sexual Misconduct Policy Web page.
“These are criminal acts and you are NOT responsible for another’s act that violates your freedom,” according to the BYU-I Title IX Web page. “If you are a victim of sexual misconduct, please know that BYU-Idaho is here to help and is able to take protective measures to ensure your safety on campus.”
If sexual misconduct includes criminal acts, students may contact the Rexburg Police Department by calling 208-359-3008, according to the 2015 Annual Fire and Security Report.
Athens said he is not against students meeting people through social media as long as they are cautious when using it.
“There are absolutely good people who have the best of intentions,” Athens said.
Elisa said that after having a variety of good and bad experiences, she finally met the man who would become her future husband on Tinder. She said that after three dates filled with interaction, she and her husband had made their relationship official.
“I found a good apple out of Tinder,” Elisa said. “I found a ton of bad apples, but I found the good one.”
Elisa said she is not against dating on social media, but she believes students need to set their standards.
“Go in knowing what you don’t want, stay true to that and follow your gut instincts,” Elisa said.