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Results suggest that involvement in online dating may increase rather than decrease with age and that older adults may turn to online dating in part as a response to diminishing satisfaction with and use of more conventional ways of establishing romances.
Age was also unrelated to proxy measures of the stigma associated with online dating (i.e., whether respondents had told others they date online, mean rated favorability of responses to such disclosure).
Thus, while Internet dating appears to have fairly wide appeal across age ranges, individuals in some age groups appear more likely than others to seek opportunities to meet romantic partners online.
Indeed, Internet users 55 years of age and older are substantially underrepresented among visitors to online dating sites (com Score, 2003; Madden & Lenhart, 2006).
Young adults, for example, and especially young adults enrolled in full-time studies, are likely to enjoy greater access to large numbers of potential partners in their normal day to day activities than older adults who have been in the workplace for several or perhaps many years.
Not only do current policies in many organizations actively discourage workplace romance (thus eliminating what may be, for many individuals, the single largest pool in which they might seek partners), but older adults may also have less time for socializing outside of work hours than do younger adults who have not yet entered the workforce full-time (Brym & Lenton, 2001).
Shifts in time perspective are not the only changes that accompany aging.
In the present context, this suggests that increasing age should be associated with intensified desires to find a romantic partner and, particularly, a partner with whom the individual might share an emotionally meaningful and affectively positive bond.
Here we explore the possibility that age might be associated in important ways with variation in people's experiences with online romance, a possibility researchers have largely neglected to consider in their investigations of relationships established via the Internet.
Recent indicators suggest that online dating is a widespread and popular activity.
Given that intimate relationships play a central role in emotional regulation, Socioemotional Selectivity Theory further proposes that emotionally meaningful relationships characterized by intimacy and affection should increase in importance with age (Carstensen, 1995).
Consistent with this prediction, longitudinal research (Carstensen, 1992) has shown that frequency of interaction in and satisfaction with relationships with emotionally significant social network members (i.e., siblings, parents, spouses, and children) increases from age 18 to age 50.