Dating apps have spread to virtual bedtime companionship due to COVID and loneliness

Online dating apps are no longer just places to find love and companionship in person. Nowadays, people use them to fall asleep.

At least that is the case in Taiwan, as several dating apps have been developed to literally offer company to people who turn a blind eye for the night.

Until recently, such an application called PlayOne provided online communication for games and other purposes. Then the developers added a rather unique option called “Call to sleep”.

It’s just as you might expect. Well almost. Users who use this option choose the features they want in a virtual companion, which is that the person on the other phone will be there when it’s time to go to sleep. Users can select the type of voice they are looking for, as well as the appearance traits.

There’s a catch: some app users pay bedtime companions to help them fall asleep. A man who said he helps others fall asleep said he charges $ 13 an hour for his services, according to Worldcrunch.

This is part of a growing trend in Taiwan that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and an increased sense of loneliness. When a feeling of being alone is added to the millions of people already struggling with sleeping problems, this pattern isn’t all that surprising.

PlayOne’s call-to-sleep option has become very popular among its users, who have made repeated requests to have someone on the other line as they close their eyes. Some would have asked for the companion’s voice to continue even after sleep was over. Others have expressed a lack of care in draining phone batteries.

Ken-Han Huang, founder of the dating app Goodnight, has implemented similar services on his platform and it is paying off. Between 40 and 60 million minutes were spent using the call feature to sleep, he told Worldcrunch.

Social distancing has changed the dating game, the developers said, and maybe for good. It is not enough to see pictures of potential mates or those we want to help us fall asleep.

The Verge reported that 13% of new users on Hinge, the popular dating platform, created their profile with a voice prompt while 46% of users listened to at least one voice prompt. Hinge launched the feature film in October.

“If you imagine the extra time it takes to add information to your profile, that’s already a sticking point,” said Michelle Parsons, CPO at Hinge. “So we’re really excited about this, and our plans are to continue to help users see value, and things like these going viral on TikTok have certainly served us a lot here.”

Some dating apps take camaraderie to the next level, offering sleep and cuddle buddies online in the wake of COVID restrictions and isolation. Between 40 and 60 million minutes were spent using the call feature to sleep, according to one of those apps.
gorodenkoff / Getty

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