How the Internet is changing dating in 6 charts

October 21, 2013

 

(Pew Internet & American Life Project)
(Pew Internet & American Life Project)

The Pew Internet & American Life Project studies almost everything Americans do online. So it's no surprise they have the online dating scene covered. In a report released Monday, the project shows just how much the Internet has invaded Americans' romantic lives.

According to Pew's survey, 11 percent of American adults and 38 percent of those currently "single and looking" have used an online dating site or a mobile app. And 66 percent of those people have gone on a date with someone they met on such a site, while 23 percent report meeting a spouse or long-term relationship through the services.

It's not all candy and roses. Some 54 percent feel that "someone else seriously misrepresented themselves in their profile" and 28 percent of online daters "have been contacted by someone through an online dating site or app in a way that made them feel harassed or uncomfortable."

Despite these concerns, some 59 percent of Internet users view online dating as a "good way to meet people," and 53 percent say it "allows people to find a better match." Some 21 percent of Internet users say people who use dating site are desperate, but that's down eight points from 29 percent in 2005.

(Pew Internet & American Life Project)
(Pew Internet & American Life Project)

Even if they haven't done any online  dating themselves, a lot of Americans say they know someone who has tried it out. Some 42 percent of American adults say they know someone who has used it, while 29 percent say they know someone who entered into a marriage or long-term relationship with someone they met through online dating.

(Pew Internet & American Life project)
(Pew Internet & American Life project)

But even if American's aren't using a dating site, a lot of them use the Internet in their romantic life in other capacities. For instance, a majority of "single and looking" Internet users have flirted with someone online -- as have nearly 39 percent of people who have been married or partnered for 10 years or less. A fair number of Internet users also used the Internet to do research on previous dating partners.

(Pew Internet & American Life Project)
(Pew Internet & American Life Project)

A lot of social media users use the sites to check up on previous partners -- especially the younger crowd, where nearly half of those ages 18 to 29 say they've looked them up. Younger people were also more likely to post details or pictures from a date, maybe because they (rightly) assume there's a fair chance an ex is going to be following their online presence.

(Pew Internet & American Life Project)
(Pew Internet & American Life Project)

Social media users are also using the platforms to research fresh prospects -- or even make the first move. Thirty percent of users say they've used social networking services to research a prospective partner, while 15 percent bit the bullet asked for a date via the sites. Unsurprisingly, young whippersnappers ages 18 to 29 were more likely to do either of these things than their counterparts ages 30 to 49.

(Pew Internet & American Life Project)
(Pew Internet & American Life Project)

But when a relationship sours, some also have to do some digital cleaning up to do -- especially younger users. Over a third of social media users ages 18 to 29 report "unfriending" or blocking a former partner. A similar proportion reported untagging or deleting photos of themselves with someone they used to date.

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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