250,000 UK students use 'sugar daddies' app to hook up with wealthy older men (according to app)

A quarter of a million UK students are using a "sugar daddy" app - an app which aims to hook up wealthy men with younger (less wealthy) women.

According to app makers Seeking Arrangement, almost 250,000 students have signed up to their "sugar daddy" service. The app say its members, who they call "sugar babies" can "get to experience a luxurious lifestyle, and meet wealthy people on a regular basis".

Online people have obviously taken this to mean that it is essentially a "pimp-app". An app on your phone that finds you rich clients, who are essentially paying you for sex.

"An expectation of sex"

Clover Pittilla, 20, from Bournemouth is a user of the service. Known by the Seeking Arrangement app makers as a "Sugar Baby", she described her experience of using the app to BBC Newsbeat.

She told the BBC that there was sometimes an expectation of sex from the older men.

"Sometimes, sometimes [there is an expectation of sex]. But they are usually quite forward with that. They usually say it straight away. If that's what they want then that is what they want."

"But if that is not what I want, that is not what I am going to do. But if they are attractive or whatever and you wouldn't mind, then why not."

Sugar daddies have to meet a "certain standard"

App user Clover, who has a large following on Instagram.

Describing the older men who use the app, known as "Sugar Daddies", Clover said they had to meet certain standards.

"It wasn't for chavy people, there is a certain standard they have to meet"

"They are somewhere in life materially where they want to be and they just want to have fun now."


Universities the most new "sugar babies"

The app developers published a list of universities with a lot of new signups over the last year. The most came from Portsmouth, with Kent close behind. The app developers claim they've had a 40% growth in young women joining the app in the last year, and think that rising fees have contributed to the new signups.

1) University of Portsmouth - 216

2) University of Kent - 212

3) University of South Wales - 208

4) University of Cambridge - 207

5) University of Nottingham - 195

6) University of Arts London - 186

7) University of Central Lancashire - 173

8) University of Manchester - 172

9) University of Bristol - 171

10) University of St. Andrews - 165


Prostitution?

The app makers believe the high cost of university and accommodation in the UK is part of the reason behind their 40% growth in young female users, but claim it isn't just about the money, and that users sign up to "experience wealthy lifestyle" whilst on dates with the older men.

Online reaction has of course been skeptical, with many saying it is just a way of hooking up active users of the app with clients.

Clover said this was unfair.

"Some think it is like prostitution but it really isn't. You don't have to do anything you don't want to do."

"If you go on the internet, you see what people really think of it.

Active users?

Though Seeking Arrangement claims that they have a huge increase in users, these figures are taken from email address sign ups. It is extremely unlikely that all or even most of the 1/4 million UK student users who signed up to the app are actually going on dates with older men - and we suspect a lot of these could be attributed to joke signups (like how you sign up friends on Tinder using their most embarrassing pictures), or people signing up by mistake.

Nevertheless, the police have issued warnings about a rise in crimes linked to dating apps, and doctors have also seen a rise in STIs related to dating app use, though not solely attributed to the "Sugar Daddies" app.

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