Online dating works by joining a dating website or app, where you can create a profile, search other users for suitable matches (sometimes calculated in percentages based on similarities) and can message people you like. They are only for people aged 18 plus, and underage use is discouraged. Some dating services such as Match ask for a subscription fee; others, such as OK Cupid and Plenty of Fish, are free. There are also many apps such as Tinder and Grindr which focus on casual relationships.

Whilst these services offer a chance to meet new people, it’s important to be careful what information you share and to stay safe when talking to people you don’t know. Not everyone is who they say they are.

For more information about staying safe when online dating, click here

If you are experiencing online abuse or someone is behaving inappropriately, you can report this to the police at 101 (to report the incident to Avon and Somerset Police) or if you have received immediate threats to your safety, please phone 999. You can report any bad behaviour online, whether you’re suffering from it or are worried about a friend, at the CEOP website, by clicking the eye icon in the top right hand corner of the website. To visit the website, click here

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