If you spend much of your time online, you should know that you are not alone. It is estimated that the average Briton spends around 24 hours each week on their smartphone or a similar device. Therefore, it makes sense that most people would start looking for friendships online as well.
Now, if this is something you are considering, there will be many likeminded people who have the same idea. However, much like online dating, you do need to be safe when making friends on the internet. After all, since you don’t know them well, there is no telling what they are capable of.
The good news for you, though, is that there are ways to make friends online while also keeping yourself protected. These are the top tips that you can follow to ensure this:
Select the right apps
There are more and more “friend” apps than ever before. These are specifically designed for people who are looking for friendship, without any romantic entanglements. Despite this, not all these apps are created equal. Some are safer than others.
So, how can you discern the good apps from the more lax ones? Well, to start with, consider the verification measures each app takes. For instance, there are some well-known apps like Bumble BFF that use a Facebook account to verify that people are actually who they say they are.
In short, you should stick with apps that go to additional lengths to make sure that only legitimate members join up. This will considerably increase your chances of being safe with your new friends. Another thing you may want to try is to focus on apps that allow you to find people of the same gender as you. This is especially important for women who would feel more comfortable with other ladies.
Limit your personal info
If you are using an app to find friends, you will often discover that you are required to write a short bio. This gives potential pals some idea of what you are like or, at the very least, what your interests are. Now, in these sections, it is best not to go overboard with information. Stick to vague basics such as “I like to read” or “I would like to meet people who are interested in music”.
This is a tactic that you should hold onto even after you have started chatting with someone. It is best to avoid any mention of your specific location, where you go to work, and more. Remember, especially in the early stages, that you have no idea what kind of person you are talking to. So, it is best to err on the side of caution.
You should also be mindful about the type of questions your online friends ask you. Are they run of the mill queries or do they seem overly personal? If it falls into the latter section, then you may want to take a break from that online friendship, at least for a while.
Do the appropriate research
Don’t wait too long to figure out who your friend really is. If you find this person interesting and would like to continue chatting with them, you need to do a little background search. Don’t worry, you won’t need to take any drastic steps.
Rather, you can complete a free people search online using basic information such as their name and age. This way, you will know whether this individual is dangerous or if all the information they have provided to you is accurate.
At the very least, you should do some kind of digging online. One popular method of doing this is by checking out social media profiles. These are often a goldmine of information and you can get a feel for what your new friend is like. Furthermore, you will actually be able to determine whether this person is legitimate or not.
Not to mention, by viewing images and posts, you can discern whether they have been completely honest with you about their lives. After all, if someone has told you that they are single but they are actually married with children, you will need to know the truth.
Trust your instincts
This may seem like a rather old-fashioned sentiment but it is important, even in the digital age. When you are chatting with someone, make it a point to trust what that little voice is telling you. Keep in mind, your subconscious may be picking up warning signs that you may not be aware of just yet.
So, if you have been speaking to someone for a while and you feel a sense of unease, there is probably a reason for this. In such a situation, you may discover that it is best for you to cut off all contact with that person, especially if that feeling continues to bother you.
Meet your “friend” in a public place
This is advice that has been repeated to online daters but it is important for friend meet-ups to take place in public spots as well. Once again, you can’t completely trust someone that you haven’t actually met before. So, if you do decide that it is time to meet one another, then you should set up the spot at a busy bar, restaurant, or café.
Someone who only has good intentions will certainly not object to these terms and will comply with your meeting spot. Once you have met, you should continue to remain in public areas. Try to avoid getting into vehicles or going to somewhere you are unfamiliar with.
If you don’t mind taking additional precautions, invite a friend or two along. You can also ask your online friend to bring someone with them as well and make it a group meet up. Remember, there is safety in numbers.
These are the top tips to follow if you want to make new friends but also remain safe at the same time. With these tactics, you are sure to keep yourself protected while also meeting wonderful new people.