Turns out Grindr isn’t just for hookups: A new study suggests that teenage boys are using the popular dating app to find friendship, romance, and community.
The report, published in a recent edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health, compiled data from an online survey of more than 200 sexually active teenage boys ages 14–17. More than 50% of respondents reported using Grindr and similar LGBT dating apps for more than just sex—despite, of course, the app’s 18+ or 21+ age restriction.
The study’s authors say it’s the first deep dive into the sexual habits of gay and bi teen boys.
“I was surprised we didn’t know this information when we started the study, but a lot of folks don’t do research on people under the age of 18, especially on LGBT teens under the age of 18, for a variety of reasons,” author Dr. Kathryn Macapagal, a professor at Northwestern University, told The Chicago Tribune. “We found that teens in this study were super excited that somebody was paying attention with what was going on in their lives, and how these apps played a role in their sexual development and coming-out process.”
Researchers believe that the app’s functionalities might appeal to closeted or newly out teens, who might be navigating same-sex dating or sexual relationships for the first time.
“We also found that although [teens] might have had sexual relations with [other Grindr users], these folks might have turned into friends, they might have turned into boyfriends,” Macapagal added. “So there is some evidence that youth are getting lots more out of these apps than just sexual relationships.”
The team also found that participants who used Grindr were more likely to access sexual healthcare services, like HIV testing.
In a statement, Grindr said that it does not condone use of the app by anybody who is underage.