Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Public Health (M.S.P.H.)

Degree Granting Department

Community and Family Health

Major Professor

Ellen Daley, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eric R. Buhi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ambar Basu, Ph.D.


Communication, Dating Apps, Qualitative


The purpose of this thesis was to learn more about geo-social networking applications and how they are used by women to meet sexual partners. Currently, there are no known studies that have looked at heterosexually-oriented geo-social networking applications or at the way women have used these apps for heterosexual sexual encounters. This thesis attempts to begin to bridge this gap in the literature.

For the first study, apps were selected based on their appearance in popular media articles about dating applications. Results generally related to online safety concerns, while occasional features were related to sexual safety concerns. Communication options were limited, and apps shared information with users about how far away they were from one another, from half a mile away to 5 miles away, depending on the app. Findings suggest that this is an area in need of more study, as how these apps are used by app users is currently unknown.

The second recruited four women aged 18-24 who reported willingly having had sex with a male partner they met over an app. The study found that participants were sharing personally identifying information over apps (full names, phone numbers, etc.), and occasionally meeting partners in private residences for the first time. All participants reported using condoms the first time they had sex with a partner they met over an app. Findings suggest there is much more research required on how individuals meet partners over geo-social networking applications and how to safely navigate these apps.

Included in

Public Health Commons