Digital Dating And The Catfish Phenomenon

HandsA Catfish “is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances” according to  About two months ago, most Millennials, and certainly most adults, didn’t know what the term meant despite the release of a 2010 documentary of the same name. Now, it’s become a common catchphrase in culture, is the subject of a hit reality show on MTV, and is national news following Manti Te’o’s scandal. Millennials are redefining dating in the digital age, and unfortunately that sometimes means being misled online. We recently surveyed 989 13-34-year-olds about the concept of being Catfished and how they feel about online-only relationships.

Having a relationship that solely exists on the Web is more common among Millennials than one might think. Two in ten (22%) say they’ve been in an online relationship before, and nearly this same percentage (19%) believes that an online relationship is just as meaningful as an in-person relationship. This generation has grown up forming friendships and relationships on the Internet, so it’s no surprise that they feel close to others through a screen. One Millennial even wrote an article for us earlier this year about how the Internet enables friendships that might not otherwise be possible. Yes, online friendships and romances often lead to physical meetups, but Millennials still view this way of getting to know someone as socially acceptable. Texting, tweeting, IMing, and video chatting are normal ways for them to build or further a connection. Moreover, Millennials value being constantly connected through technology; they appreciate knowing that their friends or significant other is just a click away.

A recent article in Jezebel


Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?

Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: "I want to be able to have, and provide for, a family in the next 3-4 years.” –Male, 20, NC

The gambling industry is (still) trying to figure out Millennials. While young travellers do seem to like Vegas, they’re not interested in playing slots, and more of their money and attention is going to technically non-gambling activities like fantasy sports. Some casinos are trying out skill-based machines that feel more like video games. According to the CEO of the Global Gaming Association “It's going to be a lot about throwing things up on the wall and seeing what sticks." (CNBC)

Digital natives have naturally integrated tech into their relationships, and teens are using texting and online flirting as a way of “dipping a toe in the ocean of romantic possibility.” But at the same time, in-person interactions remain important: 50% have flirted by friending someone on social media, while 55% have flirted by talking to their romantic interest in person. (The Atlantic)

Evidence that food is the new status symbol continues to mount. New research from Good Food magazine found that 16-24-year-olds in the UK spend more on food than any other age group, with much of that splurging spent on takeout. These young consumers are also spending more on brunch and other restaurant visits than older diners. (Vice Munchies)

Television has traditionally been relatively isolating, especially as an influx of content has made it less likely that everyone is watching the same show at the same time and time shifting has threatened the water cooler moment. But social media is making TV a communal experience again, as actors, writers, and the audience react to episodes in real time together. Social media activity is also an indication of a show’s popularity: Twitter and Nielsen have found that there is a connection between tweet volume and the size of the viewing audience. (NYTimes)

Exercise might seriously improve the mental health of bullied teens. A study from the University of Vermont found a 23% decrease in suicidal thoughts and attempts among bullied students who exercised four or more days a week. While the study doesn’t necessarily prove that exercise reduces sadness and suicidal tendencies, it is “an important first step” in connecting the two. (Common Health)

Quote of the Day: “I don't have kids, so my financial goal is to save the money I need to take the trips I want to take.” –Female, 25, FL

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies