What is Grindr? A Parent's Guide

Should you be concerned if your son has Grindr on his iPhone?

Ttween boy texting with smart phone on old sofa
Hero Images / Getty Images

Grindr is a popular dating and social app for gay and bisexual men that launched on iOS and Android smart devices in 2009. It was the first such app for this demographic to incorporate geolocation functionality which allows its users to view others who are closest to them.

Since its launch, Grindr has been downloaded by over 10 million users from all around the world and, while it is often associated with casual hook-ups and dating, it has also proven itself to be a valuable tool for connecting gay and bisexual men with each other in communities where it would have otherwise been difficult or even dangerous.

This latter fact is why Grindr can be quite popular with gay and bi teenagers who may not have any likeminded friends and are looking to make a connection either socially or romantically with someone nearby. Many also use it for fun in much the same way people download Tinder just to have a laugh at other users' dating profiles.

Is Grindr Only for Adults?

Grindr is officially rated 17+ in the Google Play app store and 18+ in iTunes. It is a dating app designed for gay and bisexual adult men and is always promoted as such in its marketing materials. While it can be used innocently for fun or to make friends, the majority of Grindr users do use it to search for a romantic or sexual partner and the language (and images and video which can be sent between users privately) can be highly inappropriate for those who are underage. Grindr is not recommended for underage users.

Why Do People Use Grindr?

Grindr is used for a range of reasons and users can specify what they're after on their profiles and even filter results to display those who are after the same. For example, a user who is looking for a friendship can perform a search for other users who also want to make a new friend.

The Grinder app is mainly used for those after serious relationships, casual dating, or sexual hook-ups but there are also many who use Grindr when traveling to make friends in cities or countries where they don't know anyone.

Is Grindr Safe?

Grinder, like most social networks and apps, is only as safe as its users. While many use Grinder without incident, there have been several reports of dangerous adults targeting teenage users and also a few occurrences of teenagers using it for committing crimes against others as well.

The most worrying aspect of Grindr is that it can be used to out gay and bi people who may still be in the closet. This could result in bullying at school from classmates and teachers or even physical assault.

Due to the graphic nature of conversations and media shared on Grindr, underage users could also develop unhealthy views of relationships and body image. Like other messaging apps, bullying on Grindr is also known to happen.

Grindr Alternatives for Gay Teenagers

The best alternatives to Grindr for gay teenagers are social networks that they're likely already using; Facebook and Twitter. Both have a rather large userbase of gay youth and make it rather easy to connect with other users in a much more open and transparent nature than Grindr's private messaging system.

Facebook has a variety of public and private groups for gay and bisexual teenagers based on country, city, and interests. Twitter, on the other hand, makes it very easy to find likeminded people to follow simply through the service's search function.

One particular benefit that Twitter and Facebook have over Grindr for teenagers is that they allow younger users the opportunity to connect with positive gay and bisexual role models such as LGBT politicians, editors, and writers. This can provide them with a much more wholesome experience that can prepare them for using Grindr and other similar apps when they're older and more prepared for dating as an adult.

This is a topic that might require a more in-depth discussion with your child. When it comes to sensitive information like this, Lifewire should not be your only source of information.