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Throughout human history, people have sought assistance from others in meeting romantic partners – and Americans today are increasingly looking for love online by enlisting the services of online dating sites and a new generation of mobile dating apps.

A national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted June 10-July 12, 2015, among 2,001 adults, finds that: This growth has been especially pronounced for two groups who have historically not used online dating at particularly high levels – the youngest adults, as well as those in their late 50s and early 60s.

Is it creating a new reality in which people actively avoid real-life interactions?

The age of first marriage is now in the late twenties, and more people in their 30s and even 40s are deciding not to settle down.The rise of phone apps and online dating websites gives people access to more potential partners than they could meet at work or in the neighborhood.Fully 22% of 18- to 24-year-olds now report using mobile dating apps, a more than fourfold increase from the 5% who reported using dating apps in 2013.These young adults are now more likely than any other age group to use mobile dating apps.Instead of interacting with the people around her, she chose to search for a companion elsewhere online.

I wondered to myself, is this what online dating has done to us?

As was the case in previous Pew Research Center surveys of online dating, college graduates and the relatively affluent are especially likely to know people who use online dating or to know people who have entered into a relationship that began online.

Nearly six-in-ten college graduates (58%) know someone who uses online dating, and nearly half (46%) know someone who has entered into a marriage or long-term partnership with someone they met via online dating.

The share of 18- to 24-year-olds who report having used online dating has nearly tripled in the last two years.

Today 27% of these young adults report that they have done so, up from just 10% in early 2013.

By comparison, just 25% of those with a high school diploma or less know someone who uses online dating – and just 18% know someone who has entered into a long-term relationship with someone they met this way.