Kathryn Coduto, lead author of the study from The Ohio State University, said, "It's not just that they're using their phone a lot, we had participants who said they were missing school or work, or getting in trouble in classes or at work because they kept checking the dating apps on their phones."
Coduto added, "I've seen people who use dating apps compulsively. They take their phones out when they're at dinner with friends or when they're in groups. They really can't stop swiping."
The findings are published in the journal 'Social and Personal Relationships.'
Participants were 269 undergraduate students with the experience of using one or more dating apps. All answered questions designed to measure their loneliness and social anxiety (for example, they were asked if they were constantly nervous around other people).
Compulsive use was measured by asking participants how much they agreed with statements like "I am unable to reduce the amount of time I spend on dating apps."
Participants also reported negative outcomes from using dating apps, such as missing class or work or getting in trouble because they were on their phones.
Results showed, not surprisingly, that socially anxious participants preferred to meet and talk to potential dating partners online rather than in person. They tended to agree with statements like "I am more confident socialising on dating apps than offline."
Coduto said, "People need to be aware of their dating app use and consider whether they have a problem. If they have trouble setting limits for themselves, they can use apps that restrict dating app use to certain times of day or to a set amount of time each day."
"Especially if you're lonely, be careful in your choices. Regulate and be selective in your use," she added.