Tinder has added one million new users in the last two months in Britain.

Tinder was founded in California in 2012 with a premise of helping individuals ‘hook up’ on dates using GPS location services and social networking data gleamed from their mobile phone.

Users sign up to the dating service via Facebook and can scroll through photographs of potential dates, judging them instantly on their physical attractiveness by either swiping right to indicate yes – or left to signal no. If two users swipe yes – the date is on.

"Our kids are pretty much out there"

But it's recently emerged seven percent of the seven million matches per day are children aged between 13 and 17, prompting child internet safety campaigners to suggest the dating site has become a dangerous sexual minefield for children.

Dan Raisbeck is co-founder of the cybersmile foundation which offers advice to parents and children suffering the negative effects of social networking.

"It is quite an alarming statistic and it just goes to show our kids are pretty much out there without the parental awareness – out there on their own making use of these sites as they see fit."

But just how much should parents be to blame for the rise in the young demographic using dating sites? Dan Raisbeck suggests adults should be more involved with their child’s life online.

"Every parent wants their teenage kids to be rebellious to a certain extent and to find themselves and to be able to handle their life. But there needs to be more awareness of what the risks are, and this is where parents need to get involved and know more about how these sites can be used and what the security features are."

"The consequences of these sites in later life can be devastating. These pictures can end up in all sorts of places, not to mention the real risk of being groomed by an adult."

A recent survey by the Advertising Standards Authority found that 83 percent of the 11 to 15-year-olds lied about their age on social media sites. A little over 40 percent stated they were over 18.

What can parents do?

The dating site Tinder’s target audience is between 18 and 35, but seven percent are under 17. Will Gardner is chief executive officer of Childnet International.

"With sites like this it is really important you put your correct age in as this site is an app that is based on your social networking profile. Children of all ages have mobile phones and we’re seeing it tumble down the age range – tens and under have their own phones. That’s the world we live in and it does makes parental supervision harder because children can access the internet whenever. But it makes it all the more important to equip children and young people with the rules of the world and how to stay safe online and to make good decisions."

Will Gardner agrees with Cybersmile that teenagers and young children need to know that they can talk to someone about their life online and any aspect of it that they may be worried about.

"We encourage people to tell their parents or carer about it and for parents, it’s important they have that open conversation and take an interest in what their child or teenager is looking at online. Ask them what services they’re using online it, ask to be shown the safety features - it’s really important people can talk to parents if they get into difficulty online."

Tinder says that if a user feels threatened, he or she can block and report an offending user or send an email to the company.

Nevertheless, it still raises questions as to what age children should have access to their own mobile phone and the services it provides, including access to adult dating sites. Continuing the discussion on teenage internet use can also serve as a reminder to users that a virtual GPS footprint can last a life time in reality. 

Parents or children can find advice on the topic at www.saferinternet.org, www.childnet.com or www.cybersmile.org

(VoR)