COVID-19: Dating Apps, Social Connections, Loneliness & Mental Health in a Pandemic

Overview:

Given the rise of dating apps (e.g. Bumble, Tinder, Plenty of Fish etc.) since 2010, the very nature of social connections, entering sexual relationships and seeking companionship has changed.

Loneliness and Social Connectedness are important factors to positive health and wellbeing to individuals’ in society, and for these two cohorts in society, who through the advice of friends, family and/or peers they may choose to download one or several dating apps onto their digital devices, as a means of searching for a connection, companionship, friendship and/or lover.

The rules of dating has changed and for older adults who may have been married for many decades, becoming single in later life could be a daunting prospect.

Currently, in the Covid-19 pandemic, it is likely many people young and old are using dating apps as a means to socially, emotionally, and sexually connect with others.

This project explores a myriad of facets associated to the experiences of dating Apps in a bid to identify and experience social(sex) connections, intimacy, sexuality by adults across different age cohorts, and including older adults (50+ years).

 

Aims & Objectives:

This multi-methods initial study aims to:

  1. Explore the motivations of using mobile dating apps by adults in society who are aged 18+ years and older adults (50+ years)
  2. Explore the motivations of using dating Apps by young and older adults, that are known to experience social isolation and loneliness
  3. Explore the barriers and enablers of using technology to access dating apps
  4. Explore the privacy and risk associated facets of using dating apps
  5. Explore the design features associated to dating apps and the impact these features have on user engagement
  6. Explore the adults wellbeing, and social connections, of users engaging with dating apps
  7. Explore the intimacy, fulfilment and sexual experiences and pleasure of engaging with users via dating apps
  8. Explore the behaviour and narratives of users who have met via dating apps

Research Questions:

  1. What impact do Dating Apps offer adults across the life span in their emotional, physical, mental health and wellbeing?
  2. How do Dating Apps (if any) reduce social isolation and enhance social connectedness for older adults?
  3. What are the Impact, behaviour and usability experiences of engaging with Dating Apps?

COVID-19:

  • Since the COVID-19 outbreak,  the experience of loneliness, social connections and intimacy have become talking points across various communities, individuals and social networks.
  • This online survey will focus primarily on dating apps specifically used during Covid-19 lockdown.

Project Partners:

Dr Hannah R. Marston (PI) – is the Research Fellow in the Health and Wellbeing Priority Research Area

Dr Sarah Earle (Co-I) – is the Director of the Health and Wellbeing Priority Research Area

Dr Deborah Morgan (Co-I) is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Innovative Ageing at Swansea University

Dr David Lee (Co-I) – is a Reader at Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Robin Hadley (Co-I) is an Independent Researcher

Ethical Approval

Approved. Ref: HREC/3441/Marston

Funding

Seed corn funding from the Health & Wellbeing SRA 2020-2021 (autumn)

Social Media:

You can follow project updates via our Facebook and Twitter platforms

Taking part in the project:

Complete online survey:

If you are interested in completing an online survey about your use and experiences of dating apps during the pandemic click here

Take pare in a 1-to-1 interview (recorded):

If you are interested in taking part in a 1-to-1 recorded interview or you would like more information, you can contact Dr Hannah R. Marston (PI) at The Open University on: 01908 654260 or use the contact form below.

In the message box below, please include the following information:

Age, gender, location, gender preference of interviewer (male or female)

Publications & Blog pieces:

  1. Marston, H. R., Niles-Yokum, K., Earle, S., Gomez, B., & Lee, D. M. (2020). OK Cupid, Stop Bumbling around and Match Me Tinder: Using Dating Apps Across the Life Course. Gerontology and Geriatric Medicinehttps://doi.org/10.1177/2333721420947498
  2. Marston, H.R., & Morgan, D.J. (2020). Lockdown 2.0: Gunpowder Plot, Digital Christmas, Sex and Relationships. Ageing Issues Blog, 2nd November 2020. The British Society of Gerontology.