Throughout human history, people have sought assistance from others in meeting romantic partners – and Americans today are increasingly looking for love online by enlisting the services of online dating sites and a new generation of mobile dating apps.
A national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted June 10-July 12, 2015, among 2,001 adults, finds that: This growth has been especially pronounced for two groups who have historically not used online dating at particularly high levels – the youngest adults, as well as those in their late 50s and early 60s.
By comparison, just 25% of those with a high school diploma or less know someone who uses online dating – and just 18% know someone who has entered into a long-term relationship with someone they met this way.
Users of online dating are generally positive – but far from universally so – about the pros and cons of dating digitally.
Overall, men and women who have used online dating tend to have similar views of the pros and cons – with one major exception relating to personal safety.
These young adults are now more likely than any other age group to use mobile dating apps.
But the fear that online dating is changing us, collectively, that it's creating unhealthy habits and preferences that aren't in our best interests, is being driven more by paranoia than it is by actual facts.
"There are a lot of theories out there about how online dating is bad for us," Michael Rosenfeld, a sociologist at Stanford who has been conducting a long-running study of online dating, told me the other day.
People used to marry in their early 20s, which meant that most dating that was done, or most courting that was done, was done with the intention of settling down right away.
And that’s not the life that young people lead anymore.
In fact, by several measures, online dating has proved even more useful — both to individuals and society — than the traditional avenues it has replaced.