Online Dating: Advantages and Disadvantages

Introduction

People living in the age of the highest technological achievements experience both benefits and limitations from such progress. On the one hand, they have more possibilities to communicate with each other. There are numerous applications and programs designed for the free exchange of information and sound or video calls. Here are some of the most popular apps for smartphones: Bumble, Clover Dating, Coffee Meets Bagel, Happn, MeetMe, Match.com, OkCupid Dating, POF Dating, Tinder, and Zoosk Dating App (Hindy). It is no longer necessary to post letters and wait for a long time to receive them. On the other hand, the pace of life is so fast that, in fact, there is too little time for real-life communication. People got so much used to various mobile devices that they do not mind eliminating their endeavors to solely online interaction. Online dating is becoming more and more popular due to a number of advantages: it allows people to text or talks to each other whenever and wherever they wish.

However, there is one significant disadvantage of such communication: since no one’s identity can be checked, there are frequent cases of online scams. Internet fraud causes a lot of psychological and financial harm if the user is too naïve and vulnerable. People may use fake photographs, lie about their age, occupation, or even gender in order to pursue their illegal purposes. Therefore, it is crucial to develop advocacy campaigns against online dating scammers. Such projects will eliminate the number of those harmed by fraudsters and will warn others about the hidden dangers of online communication. The campaign proposed in the current paper is concerned with the use of biometric scanners for smartphones. By doing so, every used of dating websites will have to take care of his or her faithfulness and will be able to rely on the same from other people. I am convinced that the idea of using biometric scanners will take away the feeling of fear and apprehension in people who are trying to find romantic relationships online. When a person knows that his or her new friend does not have any serious criminal history, it is much easier to communicate and not treat the other with doubt and distrust.

The project will present an overview of online dating, its advantages and disadvantages, the most common risks of online dating, and the proposed advocacy campaign.

Online Dating: Benefits and Limitations

There are several reasons why people consider online dating an advantageous option to meet friends or even find love. First of all, online dating is good because it gives equal possibilities for everyone to participate. Even those individuals who find it difficult to go to real-life dates due to some disability can engage in online relationships (Sales 96). Another major benefit is that this kind of interaction saves time on communing and allows users to find out a lot of information about those in whom they are interested. Also, people can communicate non-stop: in traffic, during breaks at work, and even in such unsocial hours as at night if their interlocutor agrees to respond at such time. Thus, instead of rushing to a blind date, individuals have the possibility to consider the pros and cons of meeting someone. In this way, disappointment should be eliminated.

Unfortunately, good expectations do not always come true. The first major problem is closely connected to the greatest benefit: the abundant choice is not only a benefit but also a problem. When people have more potential mates, it becomes more difficult to make a choice (Best and Delmege 237). Another even more serious issue is concerned with the degree of the unfaithfulness of the users (Lo et al. 1755). Instead of giving useful and truthful data, accounts on dating websites are often far from reality. Even if the information is true, after winning someone’s confidence and affection, internet scammers may change their line of conduct and cause harm to those who trust them (Buchanan and Whitty 262). Thus, people should treat every internet acquaintance with a certain degree of suspicion and not share too much personal information at the early stage of communication.

Risks of Dating Online

In research by Couch et al., the potential risks and dangers of online dating are identified (697). After interviewing the participants, the authors provide the following list of expected adverse outcomes of internet romance: physical, emotional, and sexual risks, the danger of getting deceived, and the risk of meeting unfaithful and hostile people on the internet and in real life (Couch et al. 697). A higher apprehension of meeting someone with risky sexual behavior online is associated with the belief that people with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) tend to use online services to look for sexual partners (Couch et al. 698). Not less significant is the fear of becoming a victim of unfaithful individuals whose purpose is merely to have fun or deceive the users. People are also afraid to become “emotionally upset” or lose their face as a result of disappointing online interaction experiences (Couch et al. 699).

Females tend to express more concern about the deceitful behavior of online dating services. For instance, women remark that men are lying about the purposes of online communication: they say that they are looking for a relationship when in most cases, they only want sex (Couch et al. 702). People may lie in a variety of ways: by giving false data concerning their age or place of living or even by having several accounts to look for people of different ages (Couch et al. 705). Some of the male participants of Couch et al.’s research believe that instances of lies are becoming less frequent (702). However, there is also an opinion that only a real date can show how sincere the person is (Couch et al. 702).

Emotional risks are concerned not only with lies. People are afraid of getting too much attached to someone and then get disappointed when their virtual romance finishes (Couch et al. 705). Dangers of sexual character are mainly of two kinds: the ones associated with STDs and violence. Participants report that they usually judge by the person’s appearance when it comes to having protected or unprotected sex. With online dating, it is more complicated to make such conclusions. Violent behavior is another anticipated risk as people do not know their partners well enough and may not notice that something is wrong until they become victims (Couch et al. 705-706).

Victims of Online Fraud and Scam

Unfortunately, many people are not careful when choosing partners on online dating websites and services. Every year, thousands of citizens fall victim to online romance scams and fraud (Buchanan and Whitty 261). The main reason for falling victim to such crimes is excessive trust in relatively unfamiliar people (Button et al. 396). Internet fraud and scams are committed in accordance with a common scheme: the criminal finds the victim on some dating website, develops a fake love story, and eventually robs the person out of his or her money (Buchanan and Whitty 262). Frequently, fraudsters involve third parties in their scheme to make it look more realistic.

For instance, a fake doctor may call the victim and say that his or her beloved person is a hospital, and a large sum of money is needed to cover the bills (Buchanan and Whitty 262). There have even been cases when victims were convinced to come to some African country, where they were kidnapped (Buchanan and Whitty 262). Sometimes, when the scammer is revealed, the victim finds it difficult to believe that he or she was deceived. People inevitably experience either financial or psychological loss (or even both) as a result of such a situation, and they become rather pessimistic about trusting anyone in the future (Buchanan and Whitty 262).

Researchers consider internet scams a serious cybercrime. In spite of being a comparatively new type of crime, over 230,000 British citizens have become its victims (Whitty and Buchanan 181). While a lot of information is spread about such illegal activity, more people get involved in it every year. According to research performed by Whitty and Buchanan, over half of the British population has heard of scam operations (see table 1). Still, even though such a large part of the population of Great Britain is familiar with this crime, many people both in Britain and other countries are unaware of the schemes of fraudsters. Therefore, special projects have to be developed to inform people about scammers and prevent the users of dating websites from falling victims.

Females’ High Disposition to Being Scammed

It is no surprise that women fall victims to online fraud much more frequently than men. It is females who want romance more than just sexual intercourse, and it is them who want to have a family rather than merely dating a man for a couple of times. What is surprising, though, is that so many smart women with higher education and a lot of experience are so easily deceived by their online mates (Smith-Hamblin). In spite of numerous pieces of advice in various media, women continue believing in the excuses made by scammers, each time believing that it will not touch them.

However, statistics show that it, in fact, does touch them most of all. According to Smith-Hamblin, nearly seventy percent of those who are deceived online are females (see fig. 1). The number is probably much higher, but many victims are too ashamed to admit that they have been deceived in such away. In 2015, the UK dating scammers stole £33 million from their gullible online partners (Moore). For the US, in the same year, the number was $200 million (Murphy). According to Australian statistics, dating and romance scams occupied the first position in the rating of fraud in 2016 (“Scam Statistics”; see fig. 2).

Specialists remark that scammers use a variety of psychological methods to make their victims get trapped. In the beginning, such a man does everything to persuade the woman that he has the most serious plans for their future together. Gradually, he gains more and more trust from his victim. Finally, when the scammer realizes that the woman cannot imagine her life without him and will not suspect anything wrong when he asks for some financial aid, he puts his ugly plan into action (Moore). In 2014, the losses of female victims of online dating scams were almost five times higher than the males'(Richter; see fig. 3). Thus, it can be concluded that a serious advocacy campaign to help women notice and prevent fraud is a necessity.

A Proposed Advocacy Campaign

To eliminate the adverse outcomes of online dating, it is necessary to create and implement advocacy campaigns that would protect people. I think that the use of biometric scanners should be made a compulsory measure for anyone who wants to employ dating websites or programs. Biometric scanners are easy to apply, and their benefits are invaluable. By scanning a person’s fingerprint, the program compares it to the police records to check whether this user can cause any harm to others. If someone has a criminal history, he or she will not be forbidden to use dating websites, but people will treat such users cautiously.

Only those individuals who have a history of cyberbullying, drug dealing, or gender-based assault will be deprived of the possibility to use online dating services. A biometric scanner is a great idea as it is compatible with smartphones. The majority of such appliances have a fingerprint function that is not too expensive to launch. People will only have to pay for the application services. However, this small payment will save people from huge adverse outcomes concerned with scams or bullying. Once such scanners are accepted as a policy on dating websites, people will have no other choice but to agree to use them. The biometric scanner will benefit the users by ensuring the protection of their privacy.

Until scanning technology is introduced at the government level, people should be cautious about sharing their personal details with strangers. It is much easier to predict an adverse situation than to deal with the outcomes. I am convinced that the proposed campaign will make dating more pleasant and will enable the users to feel more relaxed during communication. As the numerous pieces of evidence show, current ways of online prevention scams are not successful. The proposed campaign is aimed at securing people from getting deceived and losing large sums of money.

Conclusion

Online dating has a number of positive and negative features. While it saves time and gives equal opportunity for every person to seek a romantic relationship, it also has hidden pitfalls such as a higher disposition to violence and deceit. Users of online dating websites need to be particularly cautious about choosing whom to trust. The cases of internet fraud and scams are getting more and more frequent, which urges society to come up with productive, protective measures. One of such suggestions is the use of a biometric scanner for all users of online dating services. The employment of biometric scanners will enable people to see whether their interlocutors are trustworthy and whether they have any criminal history that may impact the relationships. Precautious measures are always better than dealing with adverse outcomes. An advocacy campaign associated with the implementation of a biometric scanner can make people feel more confident and secure when using online dating services.

Percentages of Individuals Who Heard about the Scam from Various Media.
Table 1. Percentages of Individuals Who Heard about the Scam from Various Media. (Whitty and Buchanan 182).
Statistics regarding online dating scamming.
Figure 1. Statistics regarding online dating scamming (Smith-Hamblin).
Top ten scams by reports in 2016 in Australia.
Figure 2. Top ten scams by reports in 2016 in Australia (“Scam Statistics”).
Statistics of fraud/scam in the US in 2014.
Figure 3. Statistics of fraud/scam in the US in 2014 (Richter).

Works Cited

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Button, Mark, et al. “Online Frauds: Learning from Victims Why They Fall for These Scams.” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, vol. 47, no. 3, 2014, pp. 391-408.

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Moore, Anna. “I Was Scammed by My Soulmate: The Shocking Rise of Online Dating Fraud.” Daily Mail. 2016, Web.

Murphy, Kate. “In Online Dating, “Sextortion,” and Scams.” The New York Times. 2016, Web.

Richter, Felix. “Americans Lost Hundreds of Millions to Online Scams in 2014.” Statista, 2015, Web.

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“Scam Statistics.” ScamWatch, n.d., Web.

Smith-Hamblin Reanna. “Tips for Detecting and Avoiding Online Dating Scams.” Striker-Pierce. 2015, Web.

Whitty, Monica T., and Tom Buchanan. “The Online Romance Scam: A Serious Cybercrime.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, vol. 15, no. 3, 2012, pp. 181-183.