A new study has revealed that middle-aged people are most likely to look for love online - dispelling the myth that Internet dating is primarily for the young.
The international poll of 12,000 couples between 18 and 70 years by the University of Oxford found that 36 percent people aged 40-69 who had met since 1996 have done so online, reports the Scotsman.
AdvertisementGay Hickey, spokeswoman for Relationships Scotland, said the Internet was proving to be particularly good for older single people who may have been too shy to use traditional dating methods.
"It's quite daunting for older people to expose themselves to judgment, particularly if it's all appearance-based and they don't have the chance to express their personality beforehand," she said.
"The Internet is giving people who might never have responded to a personal ad in a newspaper or even gone out to bars and clubs looking for a relationship the opportunity to meet like-minded people. So, generally, it's a good thing," she added.
"Finding your partner online was once regarded as a bit of a novelty, but this survey suggests it has become a common if not dominant way of meeting new partners, particularly if you are between 40 and 70 years old," said Bernie Hogan, co-author of the study.
"Our questionnaire also reveals that people who know others who date online are more likely to try it and approve it," he said.
However, it's not just the middle aged who use this medium as a way to find love, with almost a third Internet users admitting to having visited online dating websites at some point in their lives
Almost a quarter of 18 to 40-year-olds said they had started a new relationship through the Internet.
The online questionnaire by found that, while just 6 percent had gone to dating websites in 1997, this had grown to 30 percent by 2009.
In total, across all age groups, the Internet is responsible for 15 percent of new relationships since 1997.
For those who began their relationship before 2000, less than 10 percent said they had met via a social networking site.
But by 2005 this had doubled to 21 percent, while the popularity of chat rooms declined over the same period.
The research also found that more traditional ways of meeting people, such as through friends of friends or in clubs and bars are still the most popular.
More than two-thirds of all couples said that they met in these ways.