Among teen social media users with relationship experience (30% of the overall population of those ages 13 to 17): For some teens, social media is a space where they can display their relationship to others by publicly expressing their affection on the platform.More than a third (37%) of teens with relationship experience (also called “teen daters” throughout this report) have used social media to let their partner know how much they like them in a way that was visible to other people in their network.This report examines American teens’ digital romantic practices. The main findings from this research include: Overall, 35% of American teens ages 13 to 17 have ever dated, hooked up with or been otherwise romantically involved with another person, and 18% are currently in a romantic relationship.It covers the results of a national Pew Research Center survey of teens ages 13 to 17; throughout the report, the word “teens” refers to those in that age bracket, unless otherwise specified. Though 57% of teens have begun friendships in a digital space, teens are far less likely to have embarked on a romantic relationship that started online.
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.Teens also use social media to express public support or approval of others’ romantic relationships.Nearly two-thirds (63%) of teens with dating experience have posted or liked something on social media as a way to indicate their support of one of their friends’ relationships.And breakups through social media (which, like texts, are also viewed as having low levels of acceptability) are also relatively common – 18% of teens with dating experience have experienced or initiated a breakup by sending a private social media message, changing their relationship status on Facebook or posting a status update.Dating isn’t always a positive experience for youth, in person or digitally.
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 significant other.