Internet dating has become a massive phenomenon in the last decade or so, as people increasingly seek love and their soulmate online. The worldwide value of the online dating industry was estimated to be around £2 billion in 2013, and despite the economic gloom which is dominating many Western nations, the success of this industry shows no signs of abating.
However, a study carried out by the University of Kansas has found that it is not merely conventional Internet dating sites that are producing stable relationships. Jeffrey Hall, associate professor of Communication Studies at the university, found that 7 percent of people who married after initially communicating online had in fact first met through the social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and ClassMates.
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Not only are such websites producing significant results in terms of people getting together, but the evidence gleaned from further research demonstrated that relationships formed through social media tend to be happier than those that began offline in more traditional ways.
Of the 20,000 people who were surveyed as part of the study, the couples who met via social networking were found to be at least as happy as couples who had met through either online dating or via online communities. Additionally, what surprised those who carried out the survey most of all was that social networking-based relationships were actually happier than those which began in traditional fashion, such as introductions through friends.
This led the researchers involved in the survey to speculate that social networking can be seen as the modern version of being introduced by friends. This was the dominant way for people to meet their spouse in the 20th century, and it could be asserted that social networks can be seen a contemporary extension of this trend. This would explain why relationships that began that way are at least as successful as those which appear to revolve around online dating parameters which ought to produce better results.
Evolving nature of social media
There are other demographic factors at play here which also reflect the evolving nature of sites such as Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB). It seems fair to assume that the survey reflects the fact that an older demographic is using Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) nowadays. In the early days of social media, the networking sites were seen as a phenomenon which was very much aimed at young people and adolescents, but they have since become a much more established part of mainstream culture for people of all ages. There is no doubt that owners of social media will be extremely happy about these figures, and they may even cite them as a potential area for growth in the future.
With Hall’s survey showing that over one-in-five people have flirted with someone online, compared to 15 percent in 2005, there is a growing realization that the Internet provides an environment in which attraction can flourish. When people read that solid relationships and even happy marriages can result from this initial contact, it will presumably lead to many more people going down this road in the future. Perhaps this is something that the likes of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) will look to take advantage of in the future as it seek ways to monetarize its site.