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19 January 2023

Gen Z and Dating Apps

By all accounts, anyone who would have applied any thought to the matter would have likely assumed that dating apps were the staple of modern-day romantic endeavours. While, when they properly kicked off on smartphones ten or so years ago, there was some stigma about them, things are very different now. Meeting a future lover organically now feels like a quaint quirk of the past and it’s not at all unusual for someone to be juggling various chats and date plans over a whole smorgasbord of apps like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr and more.

Or, do we have the wrong idea entirely? Is Gen Z that enamoured with dating apps? In short, yes, but also no.


The majority of UK university students have used dating apps, but the numbers are closer than you might expect. 53.3% of the people Dig In surveyed said that they have used dating apps in the past, while 46.7% said that they had never.

As for students currently on dating apps, there are seemingly fewer using them than not. Only 33.6% of the aforementioned 53.3% who had used dating apps surveyed admitted to still being on active on any, with the majority of 66.4% saying that they’re not.


Of all of the students who have used - and still are using - dating apps, Tinder is the most popular. 90.2% of students who have used dating apps who resorted to Tinder. The second most-popular dating app is Bumble, with 45.9%, followed by Hinge with 39.3%. Grindr comes in at fourth with just 5.7%, with Badoo not far behind at 3.3%. Plenty of Fish has 2.5% of the votes, while the “other” category (populated with the likes of Taimi, Yubo and Dil Mil) has 5.7% of students.


This order of the most-popular dating apps is the same for students who are still using them, though the drop-off between first and second is far less severe.

  1. Tinder: 63.4%

  2. Bumble: 51.2%

  3. Hinge: 43.9%

  4. Grindr: 7.3%

  5. Badoo: 2.4%

  6. Plenty of Fish: 0%

  7. Other: 7.3%


However, as we know, “most-popular” does not always equate to “most-loved”… except with this particular survey.

Tinder is the most-loved dating app, with 46.7% of votes. Bumble and Hinge are tied in second (or third) place with 21.3% of votes apiece, and Grindr is next with just 1.6%. Badoo and Plenty of Fish appear to be no UK students’ favourite dating apps, while “other” has 9% of votes.


What does Gen Z use dating apps for?

Casual Dating is the big winner here, with 63.1%. Funnily, One Night Stands are even less popular than the answer “I don’t have any game on my phone,” which essentially equates to swiping out of pure boredom. If UK students are to be believed, casual sex isn’t a priority!


What features do UK students want to be added to dating apps?

This is a big one, and somewhat annoyingly one that is often answered by "the features dating apps used to have before paying became an option". There is more though, don't worry.

Other than wanting to be able to enjoy all of the current features on all apps for free, by far the most-wanted feature was to for the platforms to make sure that absolutely every profile on the apps was verified.

After that, but equally popular with one another were both the functions to play games with matches, and also to video (and voice) call them.

More popular features included "height verification", "voice notes", a "more LGBTQ+ friendly interface", to be more "autism-friendly" and to have "message reacts like WhatsApp". Knowing what sort of dating people were looking for (whether it's serious or one-night stands or anything in between) also featured in the list from several people.

Features that popped up a few times - but not enough to say they were popular - included being able to rate users on apps, saying whether or not they're a good chat, or even dater, and for people to know that the person they might be meeting is "safe". Not showing up on mutual friends' phones appeared once or twice, as well as a function that deleted matches if they don't respond to messages within a set amount of time.

Alfie Powell


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