More couples finding love through GPS dating apps, but are there risks?
Susan Kim, Stephanie Graham
MILWAUKEE- It's hip, it's high tech, and using a GPS-based dating app in his smartphone is how Sam Hyde met his fiancée, Nina. He admits, "I was a little skeptical at first, I thought you know, this is, jeez this is going to tell people where I am?"
But when Sam 'Checked In' through his GPS app he found out 'Nina' was standing in line at the same place he was. They messaged to meet up and, Sam recalls, "We just locked eyes and it was love at first site; love at first text!"
How many others are finding love the smartphone way? An exclusive survey of major GPS dating app providers found the trend is taking off.
"Singles Around Me" says approximately 20,000 singles are installing the app each week. ''OkCupid" says us one million of its three million users use the GPS features. "How About We" estimates that about one in four of its online daters are now incorporating 'location based dating' into their search for a soul mate.
Aaron Schildkrout is co-founder of "How About We". He says, "It's revolutionizing the way people are using their phones in order to meet people in the real world."
Each app works a little differently. When you check in on some, your profile and general location are automatically published to other singles nearby who can message you if they want to meet. This app reveals your exact location down to the street corner.
So is it safe? Investigative consultant Alan Rosenthal warns, "You don't know who you're dealing with and if you're dealing with a photo you don't know if it's that person's photo or if it's real, if it's made up."
Sam says he had a frightening experience when a man posed as a woman to lure him into one meeting.
"I could very, you know, very easily have been in danger," Sam says.
"One of the biggest problems with GPS dating is the immediacy of it. Rosenthal wrote the book on "Safer Online Dating." He says in regular online dating you have time to exchange emails or talk on the phone before you actually meet, but with GPS you could be face to face in minutes.
Just this year three teens were sexually assaulted when they met men, posing as teens, on the GPS app 'Skout'.
As a result Skout made massive changes to its teen site, including removing location technology. "Meet Moi", which sends profiles of people in your general location, says "Nothing is more important to us than user safety," and says "We never share a user's exact location."
"Singles Around Me" says the app has, 'privacy options that allow them to turn off their location GPS and or to hide their profile.'
"How About We" says it "had no problems."
Sam says he's learned the risks and rewards of GPS dating are high and high tech!
"It's the future get used to it," he says.
Some more safety tips about GPS dating:
-Always meet in a public place. Always make sure someone knows where you are.
-Just because you meet via GPS dating doesn't mean you have to 'meet' on the spot. You can always set up another time to meet in person and perhaps email or talk on the phone first.