To swipe or not to swipe: Utah ranks No. 5 in safest states for online dating

ST. GEORGE — Online dating can be a person’s best, or worst, dating experience depending on a number of factors. The main concern? Staying safe. Luckily for Utah residents, Utah was just ranked the fifth safest state for online dating in the U.S.

Nineteen percent of Americans currently use some form of dating app or website, according to Statista, and 10 percent of adults in the U.S. actually met their partner or spouse online.

While there is hope for finding happiness by swiping right, many people have mixed feelings about online dating, afraid to try it because of safety concerns.

“With my luck I’d probably end up with a serial killer,” Victoria George, who prefers to meet people the old-fashioned way, said.

And the concern surrounding online dating is warranted. The medium is littered with people who lie, catfish (lure someone by means of a fictional online persona), send unsolicited, inappropriate pictures. In fact, 29 percent of online daters reported having concerns for their safety at some point, according to Statista.

Luckily, Utah daters don’t have to be quite as concerned. In a study of online dating safety, the state has been one of the top-five safest states for years.

Image by Gurzzza/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

The study, conducted by and SafeWise, looks at the most recent statistics from the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on violent crime, cybercrime, gonorrhea and chlamydia and compares them to the population estimates for each state.

The top-five safest states are Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Idaho and Utah while the most dangerous states are Alaska, New Mexico, Louisiana, Nevada and Arkansas.

There could be any number of reasons for a state’s rank. The study suggests that one reason behind Utah’s rank is its large Mormon population; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints strongly encourages members to practice abstinence before marriage, which is probably why the state also has the fifth-lowest rate of sexually transmitted disease.

A contributing factor is whether or not a state provides sex education and/or contraception education. States that do not require sex education and contraception education tend to have higher STD and teen pregnancy rates. This is certainly the case for Louisiana and Arkansas, which are among the five poorest states in the U.S. and do not require contraception education.

According to the Utah State Board of Education, Utah does require schools to provide sex education but has an opt-in requirement so students only learn the material if their parents sign a permission form. While contraception education is allowed but not required, in most of the state, all instruction is abstinence-based and teachers are required to focus on abstinence as the primary form of birth control and safe sex. Canyons, Jordan, Nebo and Provo are currently abstinence-only districts.

Utah has the fifth-lowest STD rates per capita. In 2016 Utah had 2,100 cases of gonorrhea, making it No. 43 in the country; and it was No. 46 in the country for chlamydia with 9,457 cases out of a population of approximately 3 million.

Read more: Gonorrhea skyrocket not as huge as chlamydia rates in Southern Utah2015

Of course it’s important to use every necessary precaution when it comes to STDs, online dating or not.

Lying and fake accounts are also a problem with online dating. Statista found that 34 percent of online daters found out that someone lied to them about their identity, or had catfished them. Global Web Index conducted a study and found that 42 percent of Tinder users are already married or in a relationship.

But not everything about online dating is bad; many people end up in happy, successful relationships through online dating. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2016 5 percent of people in America who were married or in a long-term relationship said they met online.

“Online dating has been a success for me, I’m still with the guy I met,” Cassie Parker said.

The prospect of meeting someone through online dating doesn’t have to be sacrificed for fear of a dangerous encounter. Eharmony has four tips for safer online dating:

  1. Meet in a public place.
  2. Tell someone where the date is taking place and who it is with.
  3. Drive separate cars and don’t be picked up by a date.
  4. It’s important to stay sober – especially on a first date.

While there are thousands of dating sites out there, a few of the most popular are, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish and Tinder, all of which are owned by IAC, a media and internet company that owns over 150 brands and products, eight of which are online dating platforms.

Craigslist was among the many online dating platforms until March 23 when its administrators made the decision to remove their personal ads section in response to a bill recently passed by Congress, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, which became law in April this year. The law makes it such that websites are subject to criminal and civil liability for content promoting prostitution and sex trafficking published by third-party users on their site.

Craigslist’s personal ads section was used by people looking to meet, date or have casual sex with other people who responded to their ad since 1995, the early days of online dating.

It’s easy to see why people have such varying opinions about online dating. Stories, statistics and personal experience can all contribute to why a person may choose to brave or not to brave the world of online dating. While not everyone who attempts online dating will be successful, at least Utah is a good place to try.


Twitter:  @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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