Smartphones and Facebook play a key role in teenage romance – from flirting to eventual break-ups, according to a new US study.
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, researchers said.
The report examined American teens’ digital romantic practices. It covered the results of a Pew Research Centre survey of teens ages 13 to 17.
The survey found that overall, 35 per cent of American teens ages 13 to 17 have ever dated, hooked up with or been otherwise romantically involved with another person, and 18 per cent are currently in a romantic relationship.
Though 57 per cent of teens have begun friendships in a digital space, teens are far less likely to have embarked on a romantic relationship that started online.
A majority of teens with dating experience (76 per cent) said they have only dated people they met via offline methods.
However, one-quarter (24 per cent) of teen “daters” or roughly 8 per cent of all teens have dated or hooked up with someone they first met online.
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,” researchers said.
Along with in-person flirting, teens often use social media to like, comment, “friend” or joke around with someone on whom they have a crush, the study found.
Among all teens, 55 per cent of all teens ages 13 to 17 have flirted or talked to someone in person to let them know they are interested.
About 50 per cent of teens have let someone know they were interested in them romantically by friending them on Facebook or another social media site.
As many as 47 per cent have expressed their attraction by liking, commenting or otherwise interacting with that person on social media, researchers said.
And 46 per cent have shared something funny or interesting with their romantic interest online.
About 31 per cent sent them flirtatious messages, 11 per cent have made them a music playlist, 10 per cent have sent flirty or sexy pictures or videos of themselves and 7 per cent have made a video for them.
“Many teens in relationships view social media as a place where they can feel more connected with the daily events in their significant other’s life, share emotional connections, and let their significant other know they care,” researchers said.