A colleague, Zeynep Tufekci, and I were having a friendly debate about whether college students are using sites focused specifically on online dating or whether they are using Facebook and other more general social networking sites in lieu of online dating sites. I compiled some data from the Pew 2005 online dating survey. As you can see, online dating sites were most popular among young adults. I’ll try to compile the same chart for 2010 next week.

In the meantime, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts. Are college students using online dating more than they were five years ago? Are they using other sites in lieu of online dating sites?

I also pulled a chart from OKCupid’s blog. While I have been critical of some of their policies in the past, they do an admirable job of sharing aggregate data with their users.We see that the user base of OkCupid fairly closely parallels the 2005 Pew data on online dating use in the overall population.

If you are interested in online dating, I suggest reading the 2010 paper,¬† “The Social Demography of Internet Dating in the United States,” by Jessica M. Sautter, Rebecca M. Tippett, and S. Philip Morgan in Social Science Quarterly and the 2006 Pew “Online Dating” report by Mary Madden, Amanda Lenhart.