7 Ways Technology Is Changing Teen Romance

Teen girl using her smartphone

Mark Mawson / Getty Images

The digital world has revolutionized teenage romance. The way your teen communicates with a date and maintains a relationship is likely much different from the experiences you had with your high school relationships.

How Technology Has Changed Teen Dating

Here are seven ways technology is changing the teenage dating scene:

1. The Dating Pool Has Widened

Your Experience: Your dating pool likely consisted of the teens in your high school, or perhaps the teens who lived in your neighborhood. If you were lucky, your friend may have introduced you to a cousin who went to another school.

Your Teens’ Experience: Your teen has access to teenagers all over the world. Social media provides endless opportunities to connect with friends of friends - as well as complete strangers - from all corners of the earth. About 8% of teens report dating someone they first met online, according to the Pew Research Center.

2. Flirting Is Mostly Virtual

Your Experience: Your opportunities to flirt with your high school crush were likely limited to math class or the occasional times you crossed paths in the hallway.

Your Teen’s Experience: Your teen can share emoticons, jokes, and winks with anyone on social media at any time. More than 50% of teens have let someone know they’re interested through a social media message.

3. Online Harassment Is a Problem

Your Experience: Before the digital age, harassment from a creepy crush likely consisted of calling your house and hanging up. Or, if you were really being harassed, a scorned lover may have ridden his bike past your house repeatedly to see if you were home.

Your Teen’s Experience: Your teen may experience unwelcome advances, sexual pictures, and intense harassment via social media. One-quarter of all teens report they’ve had to block or unfriend someone who behaved inappropriately online.

4. Social Media Is a Major Source of Jealousy

Your Experience: Jealousy may have arisen when you saw your girlfriend talking to the homecoming king in line for hot lunch. Or perhaps, you had a twinge of envy when you heard the quarterback of the football team was talking to your love interest in the hallway.

Your Teen’s Experience: Your teen has the opportunity to watch conversations play out online. He’ll be able to read the public conversations his partner has with others and he’ll be able to witness first hand who likes, favorites, and comments on the things she posts.

Approximately 27% of teens report social media makes them feel jealous and uncertain about their romantic relationships.

5. Technology Allows for Constant Contact

Your Experience: You likely sat home waiting to see if your boyfriend was going to call on Friday night. And if he did call, your parents were likely the gatekeepers of the landline. If you didn’t talk over the weekend, you had to wait until Monday to learn what your love interest did over the weekend.

Your Teen’s Experience: Your teen likely knows what her boyfriend is doing all hours of the day. In fact, 85% of teens say they expect to hear from their significant other at least once a day and 11% expect to hear from their partner hourly.

6. There are More Ways to Say “It’s Over”

Your Experience: When you got word that a relationship was over, you likely got the bad news either over the phone or in-person. On a rare occasion, you may have received a handwritten note. 

Your Teen’s Experience: Technology provides a lot of opportunities for teens to dodge the awkward, “It’s not you, it’s me,” conversation of a breakup. Your teen could get easily get dumped via text message, Facebook, or even email.

7. Most Teens Engage in Sexting at One Time or Another

Your Experience: Unless you had a Polaroid, exchanging scantily clad photos with a high school partner likely wasn’t an option.

Your Teen’s Experience: Your teen has endless opportunities to share nude photos or webcam images. As smartphone use and easy access to social media become more and more ubiquitous, many teens will engage in sexting at one point or another. While some teens consider it flirting, others get pressured into doing so.

1 Source
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  1. Pew Research Center. Teens, Technology and Romantic Relationships.

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.