The Future of Relationships or the future of Sexually Transmitted Diseases: How Dating Apps are Increasing STI rates in America

tinder-app

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.

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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

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6 thoughts on “The Future of Relationships or the future of Sexually Transmitted Diseases: How Dating Apps are Increasing STI rates in America

  1. Halee J

    I also predicted that when the dating apps such as Tinder, had become a big hit around my friends, it would definitely arise some health problems that is related with sexually transmitted diseases. I believe Tinder definitely has the good side of making casual relationship with people who are around you and interacting with them easily. However, when I was looking at the statistics on this post, I was surprised that a lot of people actually meet up from Tinder to have unhealthy sexual relationship and end up getting disease such as Syphilis and HIV. This post reveals why we should be extremely careful about using a dating app and actually meeting people in person.
    Here is another article I found about Tinder: http://money.cnn.com/2015/05/26/technology/rhode-island-tinder-stds/

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  2. jjiilleennee

    Social Media at its best! Since one-night stands are normal in our society, I am pretty confident that the discussion of getting tested before jumping into intercourse is not a topic of interest. I think that millennial’s should talk to their “partners” to reduce risk of contracting STIs. Great article, you absolutely made a lot of good points that the increase in STIs could be from the app, but I like how you justified that there are other factors that could contribute to it. On another note, I am pretty shocked that Tinder has Tinder weddings, just another way for saying success stories really. It was a cute story, and I made the connection with Facebook since a lot of people have been getting married too via FB. I wonder if Tinder is beating Facebook, in terms of users getting married, considering that they probably have more users? I also wonder if research has been done comparing the increase in marriages via Tinder, Grinder, FB, etc.

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  3. jasonhao081

    Very interesting post, I like how you talk about the ways in which these social media apps market to young people. Now do you think this “Casual Sex” phenomenon is caused by social media, or is it a social value that has slowly developed among young people due to their exposure to these values portrayed by the entertainment industry, only reinforced by the technologies of social media?

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  4. raginlarry

    I like your point in this post, that the correlation between the rise doesn’t equate to causation. I agree that there are likely many more factors that play into the equation. I would imagine that more people engaging in casual sex would likely lead to more people worrying enough about their health to get tested. Anecdotally, I’ve definitely heard “getting tested” come up much more frequently in conversation than ever before, as well as much more casually. It’s almost as much a part of society as the dating apps themselves. Combined with the new health care that’s been provided across the nation, and subsequent lowered testing costs, it’s not surprising that the young adult demographic showed a large spike in STI occurrence.

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  5. Carey

    I thought you did a great job researching the topic as I was curious about many of the things pointed out in the article. I like that you focused on many of the potential problems that this switch to casual hook-ups and online dating has caused. A follow up question is how did this transition to online dating happen? What were the particular circumstances and methods that made online dating more attractive and what kind of media attention did it get in the beginning versus now?

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  6. Such a great thoughts on the rising social media apps! I believe that people weren’t concerning about the consequences of what the social media could bring to the public when they exercised the perks of Tinder. It would never be the simple “swipe Right”. This seemingly light gesture has caused many problems, I’ve read heartbroken Facebook posts about wife found out cheating husband using Tinder to act unfaithfully after marriage; kids underage created fake account just because they wanted to have a taste of the “forbidden fruit”. These consequences can be prevented if we put a restriction on such social media. However, I think it would be more than the restrictions, people should raise their own self-control over these kind of social media forums. Having one casual sex may be satisfying, but having one STD virus in your system would be a life long regret you wish never happened.

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