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“Now we all know somebody who has been on one.” Online Dating, by the Numbers In 2006, one in 10 American Internet users said they or someone they know had visited an online dating site.

Today, that percentage has tripled according to the Pew Research Center.

“We restrict our searches to people who have minimum education, income, a certain faith or ethnic background and all sorts of other characteristics we likely wouldn’t know if we were meeting someone for the first time at a party or bar,” she said.

“By the time they reach that age, they already know everybody at work, in their neighborhood, and in their social circle.

So where are they going to meet people if not with dating services?

” As baby boomers age out of marriages or into widowhood, more of them will seek romance online, Fisher said.

In fact, the 50-plus age group is the fastest growing demographic on both and e Psychologists and relationship experts tend to agree that online dating is a more effective way of screening potential mates than at a chance meeting at a bar or social space.

According to Dan Ariely, a professor at Duke University and author of , online dating is a “market failure” of sorts that is essentially like flipping through catalogs of people.

“Online dating sites basically take people and break them into attributes — but that’s not the way we as human beings experience people,” he said.“That’s a huge percentage compared with people who look online at hundreds of profiles — and proportionally reach out to very few of them,” he said.As the online dating market grows, smaller ventures like speed dating, which is expected to rake in .1 million this year, are being propelled upward, too.Speed dating was invented in 1998 by a Los Angeles rabbi, and functions like a dating musical chairs of sorts by bringing usually twenty or thirty daters together and giving each of them four or five minutes to chat with each potential partner in between whistle blows.Usually after meeting people for a speed dating event, men want to meet about four or five of the women they’ve spoken with and women want to meet about two or three of the men, Ariely said.The result: companies that function as online cupids have been thriving in spite of the great recession (or in part, because of it).