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Even today, online dating is not universally seen as a positive activity—a significant minority of the public views online dating skeptically.

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Younger adults are also more likely than older ones to say that their relationship began online.Some 8% of 18-29 year olds in a marriage or committed relationship met their partner online, compared with 7% of 30-49 year olds, 3% of 50-64 year olds, and just 1% of those 65 and older.Compared with when we conducted our first study of dating and relationships in 2005, many more Americans are using online tools to check up on people they used to date, and to flirt with potential (or current) love interests: Young adults are especially likely to flirt online—47% of internet users ages 18-24 have done this before, as have 40% of those ages 25-34.And while younger adults are also more likely than their elders to look up past flames online, this behavior is still relatively common among older cohorts.We refer to these individuals throughout this report as “online daters,” and we define them in the following way: Taken together, 11% of all American adults have done one or both of these activities and are classified as “online daters.” In terms of demographics, online dating is most common among Americans in their mid-20’s through mid-40’s.

Some 22% of 25-34 year olds and 17% of 35-44 year olds are online daters.

Online dating is also relatively popular among the college-educated, as well as among urban and suburban residents.

And 38% of Americans who are single and actively looking for a partner have used online dating at one point or another.

People in nearly every major demographic group—old and young, men and women, urbanites and rural dwellers—are more likely to know someone who uses online dating (or met a long term partner through online dating) than was the case eight years ago.

And this is especially true for those at the upper end of the socio-economic spectrum: Even as online daters have largely positive opinions of the process, many have had negative experiences using online dating.

These are among the key findings of a national survey of dating and relationships in the digital era, the first dedicated study of this subject by the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project since 2005.