Young adults today can search for love in many places, and one of the mediums they use more and more is mobile dating apps.
A new Pew Research Center study found nearly 1 in 5 young adults use mobile dating apps.
“These apps are accessible on your phone everywhere you go,” said Dr. Christopher Bond, a communications professor at Missouri Western State University. “So these relational technologies are allowing us to connect with others on the go, and that’s the key component of their popularity.”
The popularity spikes around Valentine’s Day, especially for online dating sites like OKCupid, Christian Mingle and JDate, according to a 2015 Time magazine article.
“A lot of people want someone on Valentine’s Day because they feel left out,” said Cheyenne Knecht, a freshman at Missouri Western State University. “When their friends are with their boyfriend or girlfriend, you’re just sitting in the background with no one.”
Pew’s study also found that use of online dating by 18- to 24-year-olds has nearly tripled just since 2013, accompanied by a spike in the use of mobile dating apps like Tinder and Zoosk.
According to the study, 27 percent of adults in the age group report that they have used a mobile dating app, up from just 10 percent in early 2013.
“With technology we are overloaded with information, emails, texts, and have trouble prioritizing,” Bond said. “These mobile apps are the same. They offer many matches and have a lot of ambiguity, so which person do you pick as your priority?”
One commonality among the dating services is that any person can stretch the truth or provide false information, meaning meetings can be a potentially dangerous situation.
The Pew study found 45 percent of online dating users — including 53 percent of women — agreed it is more dangerous than other ways of meeting people.
“Some of my friends use Tinder and went on random dates with people they didn’t even know,” said Knecht, who also has used Tinder. “It’s difficult and sketchy to go on them because you don’t know what you’re going to get.”
Most mobile dating apps use geographical location so users see all potential matches who are nearby. Compared to other online dating services, these apps are not geared toward finding the most compatible match and the goal may not be a long-term relationship.
“I’ve seen Tinder used by people who feel lonely, and just want someone to be there,” said Knecht. “Or if they need someone for a fling to get over their last relationship, instead of trying to find a long-term relationship.”