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Your Tweetin' Heart

Digital technology has had a huge impact on society’s attitudes and behaviors in sexual and romantic relationships, according to a new study from ad shop Havas Worldwide.

The study, based on a survey of 2,000 men and women in the U.S. and the U.K. earlier this month, found that 50% of those polled know someone whose romantic relationship started online. And 25% indicated that they know someone whose offline relationship ended because of their actions online.

According to the survey, a little more than two-thirds believe the Internet has made it easier for people to cheat on their partners.

Millennials are more likely than older generations to seek digital solutions for “sexual urges, needs, and questions,” per the study. Nearly half (46%) of the Millennials polled said they had visited or used online services with sexual intent, compared to 38% of 35-to-54 year olds and just 20% of people over 55.

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And Millennials looking for love tend to head to Facebook first, according to the survey, with 39% saying they would go to the social networking giant before going to a dating site.

“Not so long ago, being online was distinct from the rest of life” stated Matt Weiss, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Havas Worldwide. According to the survey though, nearly one-third of Millennial respondents said they believed that “virtuality is reality,” meaning that for them what happens online is real.

Now, added Weiss, “people are online virtually every waking hour…Portable devices enable them to do whatever they want privately, even in public places, whether it’s lapping up Fifty Shades of Grey on a Kindle, browsing adult-content websites, or swapping steamy messages and photos.”

“For society at large and for marketers, this is creating profound changes in how people think about some important distinctions in life.” That would include debates about what constitutes appropriate public behavior versus private, and activities that are deemed real versus imagined or normal versus abnormal, Weiss said.

But while large numbers of Millennials use the Internet for sexual and romantic purposes many of them—48%--say that sex-related websites and other digital tools are encouraging young people to have sex before they’re ready. And 55% of older people (55-plus) believe that to be the case.

And though online dating can take some odd twists—Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o being exhibit number one—the practice itself has become “normal and mainstream” according to 60% of the respondents in the Havas study.

More on the survey can be found here: http://www.havasworldwide.com/insights

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