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Tinder for friendship — a college phenomenon

couple smiling at phone
In college, dating was easy. Well, easier, right? There existed in your immediate vicinity a plethora of eligible, similarly aged guys and gals, all pre-vetted by your college admission’s board to pass some basic standard that you yourself had satisfied as well. Geography wasn’t an issue, you were probably friends first, I mean, come on — you could see each other whenever you wanted! Job schedules were yet to be a problem. So given the relative ease of dating in college, perhaps it should come as less of a surprise that a new study suggests that college students are using Tinder not primarily to get dates, but to make friends. 

According to research from college jobs startup WayUp (formerly Campus Job), university kids aren’t using apps like Tinder, Bumble, or OKCupid to actually find their significant other. As it turns out, 58 percent of them have never even been on a date that involved someone they’d met online. Rather, their main motivation (so they say), is to add to their platonic social circle. Of the students surveyed, 53 percent said they used dating apps to make new friends, 27 percent reported to be searching for their significant other, and just 20 percent admitted to looking for a hookup.

Of course, given this self-reporting, students may be ashamed to report their true motivations, but still, if their words are to be believed, Tinder really isn’t primarily a hookup app — it’s a friendship app.

But does it really matter what people are using Tinder for … as long as they’re using it?

Not at all, says Jason Helfstein, an Internet analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. As he told CNN Money, regardless of their motivation, Tinder, and its owner, Match Group, still see value in this demographic. And given that half of Tinder’s users are in this youthful age range (50 percent are between the ages of 18 and 24), Tinder is just glad to be keeping them around.

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