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 UrbanDictionary.com.  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

 
 
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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: "GoPro does a great job appealing to my generation because they convince regular people that they are adventurous, like many college kids like to think of themselves." –Male, 22, MD

Facebook continues to evolve to keep up with social platform competitors attracting younger users. The site has announced changes to their standalone chat app Messenger that will transform it into a platform that third parties can develop content and services for, including games, hotel bookings, tickets, and peer-to-peer payments. The new Businesses on Messenger feature would allow users to chat with brands to make purchases and change orders, and could make shopping a more personal experience. Facebook will also be adding the ability to chat with memes and GIFs, features that have proved popular with young consumers on other chat apps. (re/code,Fast Company)

Millennials are wary of investments, and generally anxious about their finances, and some have turned to new services that let them take baby steps into the financial world. More traditional institutions have certainly taken notice. Northwestern Mutual recently acquired LearnVest, a startup that offers free and paid financial planning services including articles, advice, and access to an expert for guidance on spending and budgets. The purchase is the latest in a trend of financial tech companies being snapped up by older, less digitally savvy brands. (FortuneBusiness Insider)

While many startups and sites are working to combat cyberbullying, one app is receiving an enormous amount of backlash for fostering the behavior in high schools. Burnbook allows users to join communities, usually around a school, remain anonymous, and post on topics of their choice. Although the app encourages “jokes, fails, wins, shout outs, revelations, proclamations, and confessions,” posts have been used to target specific people and groups, and threats have been made to at least one school. Some parents and teens are trying to use the app to spread positivity, but those posts don’t seem to outweigh the “gruesome things.” (Mashable)

Toys “R” Us will begin to sell an experience alongside its products with the hope of regaining their footing in the toy industry. Discount options like Wal-Mart and Amazon have hurt the chain’s sales over the past few years, so new plans to revamp stores will add physical play areas and more technology for kids to interact with. The retailer wants to be a place “where kids want to go and play,” and their new prototype store will open later this year. (Bloomberg)

For better or for worse, technology is becoming an intrinsic part of childhood, but boys and girls might not be growing up with the same tech experiences. A new study of parents of kids ages two to nine found that in many cases, parents give their children different devices depending on their gender. Sons were more likely to be given smartphones or gaming devices while daughters received more tablets (73% vs. 65% for boys). Parents were also more likely to use tech to calm down sons, with 48% using a device to help soothe boys when they are upset, compared to 37% for girls. (Kidscreen)

That image at the bottom of our newsletter is a gateway to insights and expert commentary on current and future Millennial trends. Clicking on it takes readers to our daily insights article, available to Silver and Gold subscribers, which illuminates a facet of Millennial culture and helps subscribers to understand the "why" behind the "what." Drawing from our ongoing collection of proprietary data, our deep-dive desk research, and our 10-year history of studying this generation, we figure out what it all means for brands and marketers. (Ypulse)

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