By Melissa Meehan
It was once the topic discussed in hushed tones.
But internet dating has become so popular, and successful, that by 2038 more babies will be born to parents who met online than offline.
And while 2038 seems a lifetime away, that’s when a Monash University report finds the so-called ‘e-baby’ generation will be in the majority.
Over the next 10 years they will make up 34 per cent of all newborns.
Using a nationally representative survey of over 2000 Australians and projections from current trends in online dating, the authors of the report pinpoint 2038 as the year when more than half of babies born will be born to online couples.
They are amazing figures, especially given few couples openly admitted they met online in recent years.
Former Mail Newspaper Group editor Casey Neill met her husband Kyle on Tinder back in 2015.
“We both swiped right,” she said.
“Kyle was with some older mates who wanted to know how this online dating stuff worked.
“So with them egging him on and a few drinks under his belt, he got up the courage to send me a message and we set up a date a few days later.”
Online dating was already pretty popular back then, but Tinder didn’t have the daggy and desperate stigma some of the older websites had, she said.
But she still wasn’t keen to let people know how they’d met.
“I’m not sure I ever actually told my parents we’d met online – they might have found out in our wedding vows,” she said.
They moved out together within five months.
“For our first date we went out for dumplings and Kyle reckons that was it – after he saw me scoff noodles and dumplings he was sold,” she said.
“I wouldn’t say I thought I’d found my husband that night, and I definitely didn’t peg him as the father of my future child! I’d had a fair bit of bad luck with dating, so I just took it one day at a time.”
He proposed on a holiday to America in September 2017.
They got married in October 2018 and their daughter Molly was born October 2019.
She’s 18 months old now.
It’s quite the love story, and it’s not unusual.
The report also found that couples who met online in more recent years (2014-2020), on average have 2.3 per cent more babies than those who met face-to-face (1.38 vs 1.35).
This suggests a key group of singles use technology to seek family-inclined commitments.
The report then considered current trends, finding that based on the share of births that are e-babies, an estimated 20 per cent of all babies born in this millennium are e-babies. Further, the report reveals that 21 per cent of online couples that had a baby did so within a year of meeting.
Aussie couples who meet online most commonly have one child (21 per cent), with over one in eight (13 per cent) welcoming two children. Men are also slightly more likely than women to have children with a partner they met online (38.9 per cent v 35.4 per cent).
VP International at eHarmony, Romain Bertrand said the results of the report were good news.
“In our first ‘Future of Dating’ report with Monash University, we’re delighted to see that online dating has created so many Australian families, and that it will continue to increase this wonderful legacy.”