Those in their 20s and 30s might want to be careful next time they go looking for love online - they might run into their parents.

Older people are the among the fastest-growing age groups using online dating services, a study has revealed.

The number of parents and grandparents using websites and apps to find romance has doubled since 2013. Twelve per cent of Baby Boomers have now tried their luck on sites such as Tinder and OKCupid, up from 6 per cent three years ago.

The appetite for online dating among so-called "silver surfers" is now such that it is beaten only by "millennials" - those born between about 1980 and the mid-1990s. The study by Pew, a respected US research institute, looked at the online dating habits of 2,000 people of all ages.


It found that online dating had become "especially pronounced" for those in their late 50s and early 60s, a group that had "historically not used online dating at particularly high levels".

The study showed that one in three adults aged between 55 and 64 now knows someone who dates online. Some 28 per cent know someone who has entered into a long-term relationship after first meeting on the internet.

For adults 65 and over, those figures are 21 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

It is thought that older people have embraced online dating because in later years it becomes harder to meet people the conventional ways, such as at work, parties or through friends. The death of a partner or divorce can also leave people single and lonely for the first time in decades.

While the prospect of encountering a divorced or widowed parent while online dating might seem alarming to younger generations, relationships expert Jean Hannah Edelstein said they should not feel embarrassed.

"You should feel proud of your mother for pursuing the romantic life she wants through the use of contemporary channels," she said. "Your mother has definitely had sex before, as demonstrated by your existence, so there's no need to shame her for wishing to do it again."

The study suggests the stigma once associated with online dating has gone - across all ages, 41 per cent know someone who uses it and 29 per cent know someone who has met a spouse or long-term partner that way.

- Daily Mail