Online dating once was something people had to keep secret, and was treated as the domain of people who couldn't get a "real" date. But online dating has gone mainstream, and a 2010 Match.com survey found that about 17 percent of people who had married in the previous three years met their spouses online. People aged 18 to 30 are more likely to use online dating than other demographics, and some dating sites are targeted specifically to college students.
College Online Dating
The Pew Internet and American Life Project found in 2006 that about 11 percent of all Internet users had used online dating. However, according to Internet World Stats, Internet usage has doubled since that time, so the percentage of people using online dating has also likely increased. Pew also reported that 18 percent of young people aged 18 to 29 use online dating. "The Harvard Crimson" reported that college students are increasingly using online dating, particularly when they wish to avoid the bar scene and get into a committed relationship.
Who Dates Online?
There's no specific profile of the sort of person who dates online. College students from all walks of life try online dating, and Pew reports that 36 percent of all single people have tried online dating. Online dating can make it easier to meet people, particularly for shy or socially awkward people, so people who are uncomfortable with the bar scene or who don't have a large group of friends might be more likely to date online. College students are settling into a new environment and often struggle to meet people, and this change in scenery and lifestyle can make online dating appealing.
Over the past few years, several sites have sprung up that specifically target college students, including DateMySchool and IvyDate. "The Harvard Crimson" reports that one in five Harvard students uses DateMySchool, and 50 percent of dates at Columbia University and New York University begin online via DateMySchool. The University of California at Santa Barbara's "The Bottom Line" reports that college students are more likely than other age groups to use Okcupid, and PlentyofFish also tend to be more popular among college students. College students also sometimes use social networking sites such as Facebook to meet people or to learn more about a person before a date.
In addition to meeting people online, the Internet is a popular tool for sustaining relationships. College students often use social networking to stay up-to-date on their dates' activities and lives. Some college students are involved in long-distance relationships with high school loves, and online chatting can help maintain these relationships. Even when a student doesn't meet her partner online, a significant portion of her relationship interactions may occur online.