Teenage online dating

But even as text messaging and social media play a pronounced role in all other aspects of teen life, teens feel strongly that an in-person conversation -- or at worst, a phone call -- is the most socially acceptable way to break up with someone.

Teens in our focus groups generally agreed that breaking up with a partner over text messaging or social media illustrates a lack of maturity on the part of the person who is ending the relationship.

A lot of people, if one person cheats or something or does something really terrible, then they both ... When relationships end, teens must decide how to cope with continuing exposure to their former partner on social media and other platforms.

Sometimes this exposure involves old photos and other reminders of the past, and 43% of teen daters have untagged or deleted photos of themselves and a past partner on social media. Teens in our focus groups were somewhat divided on how best to deal with social media in the aftermath of a breakup.

Some 35% of teens have some type of experience in a romantic relationship, a figure that includes current and former daters, as well as those in serious and less-serious relationships. Teens also spoke about social media as an information-gathering tool that helps them find out all sorts of information about a potential partner, like whether they are dating someone or not.

This issue came up frequently in our focus groups, as many teens expressed a desire (and in many cases, an expectation) that they hear from their significant other on a regular basis. In our focus groups, teens spoke about the reasons why couples might showcase their relationship on social media, from seeking attention to letting others know that they are now “off the market.” I mean, 'cause like if you and then person are, like, super open and you both use Facebook a lot, then you’re going to like post pictures of yourself on Facebook.

So I think he says more stuff, like how he feels through text. If I’m in a relationship or something, my girl, she won’t check my Instagram. She sees, like someone commented on it two hours ago...

As mobile devices have made it easy to check in from a wide range of locations throughout the day, many teens now want to communicate with their romantic partner on a daily – and in some cases, hourly – basis. Or somebody’s like ‘I miss you.’ [And then she asks] ‘Who is this girl?

It was relatively rare for teens in our focus groups to talk about meeting romantic partners online. These interactions have their own unwritten – but widely understood – rules.

Some teens explained that they would not trust someone they met online because of the likelihood of misrepresentation, while others were generally distrustful of all strangers online. I was dating this girl that I met through a social website that probably hardly anybody knows about. Everything from one’s choice of emoji to the spelling of the word “hey” can carry a deeper meaning.

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