Is It Love Or Are You Just Bored?

Who's using dating apps on campus? (Info by Mark Rotundo; Graphic by Diana Paredes)

Dating apps have been a seemingly useful for tool for single people around the country, but as it turns out they be very harmful for the mental health of college students.

There has been a steady upward trend since the 1990s that shows both Americans and people around the world are warming up more and more to the use of online dating, more specifically the use of dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and much more.

This trend is most prevalent in younger audiences with the age group of 16-24, according to an infographic by Global Web Index, being Tinder’s second largest user base hitting 39 percent of the total user base. According to that same infographic, individuals under 30 make up a total of 63 percent of their base.

A major point of concern about datings apps for some is how exactly dating apps affect us emotionally, behaviorally, and mentally. This is most especially the case when we consider the aforementioned rise in use of dating apps for college age individuals.

According to the Pew Research Center as of 2015, 22 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds report using a dating app like Tinder or Bumble, this quadrupled from 2013 where only 5 percent of this demographic used dating apps.

So how exactly have dating apps affected your mental health? Dr. Devin Heyward, SPU assistant professor of Sociology and Director of Sexuality and Gender Studies, cared to comment on this phenomena and how dating apps have affected us.

“One of the things that happens is that because these sites are grouped with the assumption that they are built specifically for sex and hookups,” Heyward said. “And when those things don’t happen immediately it kind of messes with our notions of what a relationship should look like.”

Heyward goes further in her assessment of dating apps, and while she praises dating apps for helping us get over that hurdle of first interaction and the ability to take ownership of who we want to interact with, and how we want to interact. It also comes with some negatives for everybody.

“While having the dating app is a good way to start the conversation” she said. “We also too need to learn to do those sort of interactions naturally.”

This can yield very negative results in the long run according to Heyward, for the behavioral development of college students and could also severely damage how people interact with one another. These negatives especially however, affect women more that anyone according to Heyward.

“We have this super negative where men will send really aggressive responses to women if they don’t respond in time, or a woman says [she isn’t interested],” she said.

Heyward also analyzed the “hookup culture” that seems to have sprung up as a result of dating apps.

“A ‘hookup culture’ has always existed amongst young people” she states. “But because it is so visible now, it makes it seem as if this is something’s just the novelty of online dating that changes how we understand [relationships].”

Not much has actually changed in the way we date according to Heyward, but what has changed is that since we have much more options of who we can date, this can often lead to us devaluing our current relationship on the basis that we can easily find someone else.

Often what happens is that if we do not connect with somebody immediately, we will just put that person out of mind permanently and move on to someone else. Because of this, according to Heyward, we end up ignoring the reality that long lasting relationships take a long time to foster and develop.

College dating can be pretty rough for some students, and dating apps have been a tool for some to remedy that difficulty in the dating scene.

Dr. Heyward gives some of her final thoughts and tips for students looking for some romance.

“Be safe, be honest, don’t pretend to be anything you’re not, don’t pretend to be looking for a relationship when really that isn’t what you’re looking for, be upfront, because the more you hide your true intentions the worse the outcome you’re gonna get .”

The Pauw Wow also conducted a survey for 18- to 22-year-olds on the subject of dating apps. With 41 responses, this is what these individuals had to say:

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