Tinder: tacky, or just a super-efficient way to meet a match in this new age of need-it-now-ness? Either way, it's got 360,000 Kiwis logging in and hooking up, the Los Angeles office told the NZ Herald last month.

The fastest growing dating app in the world boasts 1 million matches every 24 hours. Apparently, users are "seeking a way to connect with new and interesting people near you-a new way to express yourself and share with friends".

It's addictive, says its biggest fans - and fun. Even better, they can just sit back and watch the suitors roll in, based on an analysis of social data like location, mutual friends and common interests. Swipe to the right if you're keen; swipe left if you've come across a fizzer. What could be simpler?

Danger or destiny?

Is this a sleazy and creepy and contrived way of meeting people? Finger swiping fun or Russian roulette? The horror stories have put many off the app in recent times. We all


in horror of New Zealander Warriena Wright, who fell to her death from a Queensland balcony earlier this year whilst on a date with a man she met on Tinder.

Her date was subsequently arrested on a murder charge.

And a tourist - also in NZ - was reportedly gang raped after being introduced to a man she met on Tinder. In recent months, three women have reported sexual assaults to NZ police after dating respective Tinder app users.

However, Kelvin Davis, Associate Police Spokesman for the Labour party says Tinder is not the problem - it's the sick minds of perpetrators. He has recently made statements to users that they shouldn't forget that these disturbed individuals do exist among us.

Of particular concern to experts are tweens. Over 7 per cent of Tinder users are aged between 13 and 17, according to Justin Mateen, Tinder's co-founder. This is despite the fact that Tinder's privacy policy and its user agreement states users must be over 18. The vulnerability of young people when it comes to meeting strangers in person cannot be overstated, and parents have been urged to stay vigilant about their children's online activity.

From regular to Romeo


, a male-driven US dating/advice site "designed to prove that ANY guy can attract women" - is beginning to get some traction. The idea is to appeal to men who ordinarily felt unlucky in love and awkward about approaching women, with tutorials on the site that promise you too can be a regular Romeo.

The site's popular YouTube channel has over 1 million viewers and shows men approaching women in the street. You might have seen the video they released recently - a skit in which three men speak into an earpiece, encouraging their friend to follow instructions when an attractive woman comes into sight. "Just start dancing and back your ass up into her," they advise, and - sadly - the perpetrator obliges. It is, unsurprisingly, courting controversy. Unsurprising considering it is basically a guide to street harassment. (For a petition to put a stop to these videos, see here)


Safety first

Despite the horror stories, if you feel good, no one is getting hurt or harassed, and you take the adequate precautions (outlined below), there's nothing wrong with using Tinder - or any other online tool designed to hook you up. It can be exciting and enjoyable, and you should never feel ashamed of using one. (As

New York Times

technology writer Jenna Wortham puts it, "There is something about Tinder's simple flirty interface that is undeniably fun.")

There are advantages for women, too: you can control your online environment because only people who have mutually liked each other pop up. There's little room for lewd and unwanted messages. Plus you can contextualise the person who has "liked" you by checking out his mutual friends.

Just keep the following pointers in mind when you're in the mood for a swipe, and remember - go with your gut; you don't need hard evidence to ask someone for help if you feel unsafe.

• Meet your Tinder date in a public place.
• Consider having a friend nearby - or even meeting in a double date or a group.
• Tell your friends where you are going.
• Use your own transport.
• Keep an eye on your drinks.
• If you have reason to be uncomfortable, block that person on Tinder.
• Use the option to report online.
• Contact the police immediately if you have concerns.