Understanding the role social and digital media play in these romantic relationships is critical, given how deeply enmeshed these technology tools are in lives of American youth and how rapidly these platforms and devices change. This study reveals that the digital realm is one part of a broader universe in which teens meet, date and break up with romantic partners. Online spaces are used infrequently for meeting romantic partners, but play a major role in how teens flirt, woo and communicate with potential and current flames. The survey was conducted online from Sept.
The main findings from this research include:. Of those who have met a partner online, the majority met on social media sites, and the bulk of them met on Facebook. While most teen romantic relationships do not start online, technology is a major vehicle for flirting and expressing interest in a potential partner. Among all teens:. Each of the flirting behaviors measured in the survey is more common among teens with dating experience than among those who have never dated before.
But while some of these behaviors are at least relatively common among dating neophytes, others are almost entirely engaged in by teens with prior relationship experience. On the other hand, more advanced and sometimes overtly sexually suggestive online behaviors are most often exhibited by teens who have prior experience in romantic relationships:.
Not all flirting behavior is appreciated or appropriate. Just as adult women are often subject to more frequent and intense harassment online, teen girls are substantially more likely than boys to experience uncomfortable flirting within social media environments. However, even teens who indicate that social media has played a role in their relationship whether for good or for bad tend to feel that its role is relatively modest in the grand scheme of things. For some teens, social media is a space where they can display their relationship to others by publicly expressing their affection on the platform.
As noted above, teen daters say social media makes them feel like they have a place to show how much they care about their boyfriend, girlfriend or ificant other.
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Most teens in romantic relationships assume that they and their partner will check in with each other with great regularity throughout the day. When it comes to spending time with a ificant other, teens say texting is the top method, but phone calling and in-person time mix with other digital means for staying in touch.
Asked how often they spent time with their current or former boyfriend, girlfriend or ificant other on particular platforms, teen daters told us they use:. Text messaging — which is widely viewed as one of the least acceptable ways of breaking up with someone — is more common in the context of actual relationships than its perceived acceptability might indicate.
In this study, we asked teen daters about a of things they might have done online or with a phone to someone they were dating or used to date.
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These behaviors fall on a spectrum of seriousness, from potentially innocuous to troubling. Beyond perpetrating potentially inappropriate or harmful behavior, teen daters also can be the recipients of —possibly more serious — controlling or potentially abusive experiences at the hands of ificant others.
And like the practices our survey respondents told us they engaged in above, these behaviors and experiences are in some cases dependent on context of the interaction. In times of uncertainty, good decisions demand good data. Please support our research with a financial contribution.
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Newsletters Donate My. Research Topics. Social media is a top venue for flirting While most teen romantic relationships do not start online, technology is a major vehicle for flirting and expressing interest in a potential partner.
Sharing funny or interesting things with them online. Girls are more likely to be targets of uncomfortable flirting tactics Not all flirting behavior is appreciated or appropriate. Yet they also find it allows too many people to be involved in their personal business For some teens, social media is a space where they can display their relationship to others by publicly expressing their affection on the platform.
Many teens in romantic relationships expect daily communication with their ificant other Most teens in romantic relationships assume that they and their partner will check in with each other with great regularity throughout the day.
From flirting to breaking up, social media and mobile phones are woven into teens’ romantic lives
Texting, voice calls and in-person hanging out are the main ways teens spend time with their ificant others When it comes to spending time with a ificant other, teens say texting is the top method, but phone calling and in-person time mix with other digital means for staying in touch. A small share of teen daters have experienced potentially abusive or controlling behavior by a current or former partner Beyond perpetrating potentially inappropriate or harmful behavior, teen daters also can be the recipients of —possibly more serious — controlling or potentially abusive experiences at the hands of ificant others.
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