More and more millennials are using dating apps such as Tinder, Grindr, and Scruff to engage in casual sexual intercourse. According to tinder’s marketing department the app has: 50 million users, gets a billion “swipes” a day, creates 12 million matches, and users on average spend about 90 minutes per day looking for a match. Although dating apps like tinder have made it easier for people to “hook-up”, there also has been an exponential spike in recent years of STIs in key demographics of tinder users- i.e. millennials, who make up 79% of all tinder users.
Tinder launched in 2012, and it became the most popular dating website used in 2014. The app revolutionized dating. It combined the appeal of social media, with the convenience of modern technology to create a product based on easily obtaining sex. The company created a niche audience- millennials- who have: buying power, and increasingly more access to smart phones to download their app (which creates revenue for Tinder). Now, Tinder offers a paid subscription service, and has 1 million paying customers. If a user pays’ $5 a month, they can swipe as often as they like (a new form of push advertisement). They also have celebrities users (like Hillary Duff, Chelsea Handler, and Amy Schumer) who have increased the appeal, and usage of the app. They have earned media (unpaid) on Instagram, Snapchat, and celebrity users to gain more and more popularity among the key advertiser desired demographic- millennials. The app, as a form of digital media, is also normalizing “casual sex” in society with a lot of interesting consequences.
Tinder and other dating apps are marketed to young people. According to the CDC, 15-24 year olds are most likely to engage in risky behaviors- including sexual behavior. The Rhode Island Department of Health, during 2013-2014 the height of dating app usage, saw that in their state there was: a 79% spike in cases of Syphilis, a 33% increase in HIV cases, and a 30% increase in Gonorrhea. An article written by the Independent news paper discusses the aforementioned increases in STIs. Although there is an argument for a correlation between higher STI rates and increase use of dating apps, that does not mean dating apps are the cause. The article is trying to claim correlation as causation, which just is not true. There a number of other factors that could have affected the increase of STI rates: increased access to healthcare, decreased use of contraceptives that protect against STI’s, or more people going and getting tested for STI’s.
There is a new trend of Tinder weddings that is taking social media by storm. Matches made on the dating app are now resulting in marriages. The marketing department of the app is keen on the idea of couples who are now in committed relationships discussing their journey from a “hook-up” to holy matrimony. The new effort is to make the users and the app itself seem less shallow but isn’t that what the whole swiping left or right process is- a bit superficial.
-By Bushra Raza