A new study has found that adults who have Internet access at home are more likely to be in romantic relationships than adults who don't.
Just over 82 percent of adults who have Internet access at home also had a spouse or romantic partner, compared to just under 63 percent of adults who did not have access to the worldwide web, the study presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association says.
"Our research suggests that Internet access has an important role to play in helping Americans find mates," said Michael Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University and the lead author of the study.
In addition to finding that people are more likely to be in romantic relationships if they have Internet access in their homes, the researchers found that the Internet is gaining importance as a place where couples meet, and especially same-sex couples.
"It is possible that in the next several years the Internet could eclipse friends as the most influential way Americans meet their romantic partners, displacing friends out of the top position for the first time since the early 1940s," Rosenfeld said.
Among couples who met online, 61 percent were same-sex couples, the study said.
"Couples who meet online are much more likely to be same-sex couples, and somewhat more likely to be from different religious backgrounds," Rosenfeld said.
"The Internet is not simply a new and more efficient way to keep in touch with our existing networks; rather the Internet is a new kind of social intermediary that may reshape the kinds of partners and relationships we have," he said.
Rosenfeld and colleagues analyzed data from a national survey of 4,002 adults for the study.