This forum looks at the state of the art of academic research on relationships and the Internet and how this research informs research on the social aspects of the Internet in general, such as issues of trust and identity.
Research on the role of the Internet in meeting new people is an increasingly vital area of inquiry, and is illustrated by a burgeoning literature on such topics as online dating. However, the Internet may shape many other aspects of relationships beyond introducing individuals, such as in undermining or maintaining ongoing relationships, from courtship to marriage. This forum will look at the state of the art of academic research on relationships and the Internet and how this research informs research on the social aspects of the Internet in general, such as issues of trust and identity. Cross-national and cross-cultural aspects will be addressed in ways that can illuminate general cross-cultural trends and responses shaping use of the Internet in building and maintaining relationships. The forum will draw out the connections between this research and such emerging issues of policy and practice as involved in efforts to foster a digital economy in Europe. The forum will bring together researchers in the fields of online dating, social networking, and the role of information and communication technologies in interpersonal relationships with practitioners from a growing and international relationship industry and policy-makers concerned with consumer protection and media literacy in a digital age.