In “Swiped,” the HBO documentary on dating app obsessions, one frequent user reminisces about the good old days of dating: “I do remember when you used to call people on the phone.” The result is that many 18- to 30-year-olds now spend around 10 hours a week swiping for connection and affection. What’s the appeal? According to a study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationship, dating apps take pressure off folks with social anxiety and help ease the loneliness so many younger adults feel these days — 22% of adults say they often or always feel lonely, left out and isolated, and 59% of those folks are 19 to 49 years old. Unfortunately, using dating apps can backfire and create even more social isolation and discomfort. Here are some tips:
>> Controlling your dating-app appetite: Limit use to 30 minutes per day. Don’t use it while you’re at the office or school. A sure sign of addiction is swiping while hanging with friends, family, colleagues or on a date.
>> Easing social anxiety: Seek professional therapy. But also, work to identify the negative thoughts that fuel your fear of social situations (“I’m going to blow this!” or “They’ll think I’m not smart”). Then challenge those thoughts (“That’s not right. I can do this!”). Overcoming loneliness: Join clubs or volunteer organizations that will get you interacting naturally with like-minded people. Don’t let dating apps swipe your time and attention from the world around you.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chairman of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.