Ahead of St Valentine’s Consciously Digital has conducted a survey of 187 users of dating apps and websites in different countries. Our findings show that while online dating is becoming accepted in the society (77.5% of respondents say they won’t have any problems admitting they use these services publicly), it largely doesn’t serve its declared purpose, and users are oblivious to how their data is being used.
At the same time, most users ended up having very few conversations or meetings with people they interacted online with. 22.5% say they have probably got replies or exchanged messages with 1/10 of people they got matched to or wrote to. 77.5% users spoke or exchanged messages less than half of the times they wrote to someone or got matched with them.
Almost a quarter said they managed to get on 1-2 dates throughout using the app/website, while another quarter said they were on more than 10 dates.
In other words, most users are spending considerable time using these services without actually having any real conversations or meetings with real people.
As one of the users explained their experience, “A lot of time spent with very little outcome”. Another said, “Nothing happening. Many just collect matches or love to chat but no more than that.” Even those more optimistic admit it takes a lot of effort: “Meeting interesting people, although need to spend a lot of time to find them”.
On average users rated the ability of the app or website to satisfy their goals as 4.5 out of 10. This is despite of 1/3 of respondents saying they used paid features.
When asked if they’d recommend their younger self to use the app again, 1/3 say they won’t.
3. Users don’t care about online privacy or how their data can be shared
This is probably one of the most shocking discoveries, as almost 48% admitted they didn’t think about their data being leaked or shared with a third party, and 27.5% only a little bit concerned.
4. Self-esteem is not such a big issue as popularly believed
Contrary to the popular concerns, online dating does not affect self-esteem of many users. Almost 2/3 of respondents say their self-esteem has not been changed as a result of using the apps (and approximately the same number consider themselves averagely attractive).
Rather than being concerned by self-esteem issues, which don’t affect that many people, one should be much more concerned by the fact that online dating has become a hobby of its own, where people are spending a lot of time without result, not filling fulfilled, but still keep using the services and sharing their data.
Given a number of investigations about the abuse of data privacy that emerged recently from Norwegian Consumer Council and a number of other organizations, we believe it’s incredibly important to educate the users about what happens with their data, and put pressure on online dating apps to be more transparent around how data is being used, and giving more control over it to the user.
The survey was conducted online among 187 people from 19 countries in January-February 2020 (incl. 34% from UK, 31% Spain, 8% Netherlands, 8% USA). 72% of the surveyed identify their gender as female, 27% male ones, and 1% 'other'. 75% respondents are white, 8% Asian, 6% mixed, 6% latino, 3% Afro-American. 20% of participants are aged 25-29, 25% between 30 and 34, 18% between 35 and 39%.
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Dr Anastasia Dedyukhina is a keynote speaker, author of Homo Distractus, professional coach and a pioneer of the Consciously Digital™ concept.