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The Hidden Cost of Free Dating Apps

Dating applications (“apps”) have changed how people meet, interact, and form relationships with others. Location-based Real-time Dating Applications (LBRTDAs) are immensely popular among the rising generations (March, Grieve, Marrington, & Jonason, 2017; Sevi, Aral, & Eskenazi, 2018; Smith, 2018). However, the popularity of LBRTDAs masks a more adverse side; their frequent use may destroy the self-worth of users (James, 2015; Shapiro et al., 2017). LBRTDAs have essentially designed a virtual world that allows users to “shop” for their next partner (James, 2015). With this mindset, users often prefer engaging in casual sex rather than long-term relationships (James, 2015; Naff, 2017). As users pursue casual sex, they may experience health risks, including unplanned pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) (Bhattacharya, 2015; David & Cambre 2016; Sevi et al., 2017). Although not all people recognize that a decline in marriage is a bad thing, those who wish to marry in life should reassess their use of social media, because LBRTDAs’ associated “hook-up” culture has also been linked to decreased marriage rates among young adults (Naff, 2017). Furthermore, users typically experience lower self-worth, because these apps tend to elicit constant comparison (Strubel & Petrie, 2017). Males, in particular, experience lower self-esteem and self-worth when using LBRTDAs (Strubel & Petrie, 2017). In addition, many of these same consequences are currently being replicated in a sample of 84 BYU students, who answered a questionnaire about their LBRTDA use, self-esteem, and their current relationship quality. While the analysis is ongoing, there does appear to be a negative relationship between use of LBRTDAs and self-esteem even among BYU students. Therefore, although popular; such dating apps have many negative and unintended consequences associated with their frequent use, which may impact users’ ability to form successful long-term relationships.

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Sarah Worthington


Blake Jones


Sarah Whitney Worthington

Type: Poster
Discipline: Social and Behavioral Sciences
Institution: Brigham Young University

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