Tinder and the dating tech revolution

You’ve got a match! The first ever dating website, Match.com, launched in 1995.

Has technology transformed dating for the better? Apps like Tinder have revolutionised the way people find partners, but some experts are warning this tech boom could be harming teenagers.

A recent episode of Black Mirror imagines a future where who we date, and how long each relationship lasts, is determined by a mysterious, all-knowing computer called the System. After a series of failed relationships, which help the System learn more about you, users are matched with their one true love with a 99.8% success rate.

The fantasy could soon become a reality, thanks to advances in augmented reality and machine learning. According to industry leaders, computers will be able to assess the compatibility of a couple using just 300 words from their Twitter pages. In nightclubs, romantic hopefuls will scan people with their phones to view their profiles.

Since its launch in 2012, no app has changed the dating game quite like Tinder. Six years later, users in 196 countries swipe 1.4 billion times a day. “Swipe right” even has an entry in the Collins English Dictionary.

The boom in dating apps has particularly affected LGBT people. In 2005, 20% of same-sex couples met online. That figure has now rocketed to 70%.

But this revolution is not without danger, especially for young people. Experts warn that technology is driving a rise in abusive behaviour among teenagers.

Roughly a third of teens have had a partner use digital means to put pressure on them to have sex or share sexual images, and 12% have admitted to forwarding a sext without consent.

In 2015, sending intimate pictures of someone without their knowledge became punishable by two years in prison. Experts warn that the victims can experience similar trauma to physical assault.

Even mutual relationships risk becoming obsessive in a world of 24-hour messaging. More than half of adolescent girls and boys have dated someone who used social media and texting to control them by bombarding them with messages or tracking their location.

Has technology transformed dating for the better?

Robo-romance

Absolutely, say some. It used to be that most people married someone who lived within four miles of them. Now we can break the boundaries of distance and find a real connection with someone on the other side of the world, not just settle for what’s around the corner. Moreover, people with disabilities and people who might otherwise be socially isolated have more ways to reach out to others for connection and understanding.

Sadly not, respond others. We should be concerned that having instant romance at our fingertips is making people scared to commit. We’re always on the lookout for exciting new conquests, rather than facing the realities of building a real relationship with its inevitable ups and downs. Most importantly, we must educate young people about privacy and healthy relationships to combat the dangers of digital dating.

You Decide

  1. Has technology been good for dating?
  2. Will computers ever be able to find us the perfect match?

Activities

  1. Research how to stay safe online and produce a poster featuring rules for internet safety for young people.
  2. Think of a classic romance, for example, Romeo and Juliet or Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy. Imagine the leading couple had met on Tinder and summarise their love story in text messages.

Some People Say...

“Technology really increased human ability. But technology cannot produce compassion.”

Dalai Lama

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Studies have shown that Tinder users tend to have lower levels of self-esteem than people who do not use Tinder. This is seen across social media platforms, with Instagram found to be the app that has the most negative effect on mental health. Experts believe this is because users end up comparing themselves to others they see on social media, whose images might be an unrealistic, airbrushed reflection of their lives.
What do we not know?
We do not know how technology will continue to shape our relationships in the future. Technology is constantly progressing, and developments in artificial intelligence could influence our romantic lives in ways we cannot yet imagine. We also do not know the true impact that online dating culture may be having on young people, as the research is limited.

Word Watch

Black Mirror
A television series written by comedian Charlie Brooker. Each stand-alone episode imagines a different version of our future that reflects the fears and possibilities of our society now.
Augmented reality
A technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world. For example, Google Glasses allow users to search the internet and carry out tasks on a screen in their visual field.
Machine learning
A field of artificial intelligence that aims to use data to teach machines to “learn” for themselves without the need for specific programming.
Swipe right
Tinder presents its users with an image of someone nearby. They can then swipe right with their finger if they are interested, or left if they are not. If two people swipe right for each other, they are matched.
A third
According to the report, “Gender matters: Experiences and consequences of digital dating abuse victimisation in adolescent dating relationships,” by Lauren A.Reed, Richard M.Tolman and L. Monique Ward
12%
According to data collected by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sext
Around 15% of teenagers have sent a sexually explicit message. Experts stress that once you send an image of yourself, you can never control it again.
Mutual
Balanced, felt by both parties.

Subjects

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