What's ahead in online dating

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As online dating opportunities continue to expand, here were trends observed in 2007 and what's predicted in 2008, according to Sparks Networks, a leading provider of online personal services.

One of the biggest trends this year was the explosion of single parents seeking dates online. On any given day in the United States, 397,000 single parents used online dating services, which represents 16.1 percent of all online daters, according to Mediamark Research.

Among other trends, there was a significant push toward organizing events offline for dating groups. For example, JDate.com, a site for Jewish daters, organized a Cancun trip, bungee jumping and skydiving excursions and weekend wine tastings. In addition, 200 speed-dating events were organized.

Niche dating also became more popular, with people joining dating services tied to interest-oriented, religious, ethnic, geographic or gender preferences.

In 2008, expect more online daters to personalize their profiles, engage in video blogging and use mobile dating applications on their phones.

BlackSingles.com and ChristianMingle.com in 2007 launched mobile counterparts. Daters can expect to have more and total access to member profiles and social networking from their phones. This is expected to rise from 40 million in 2007 to 260 million by 2012, according to Jupiter Research.



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