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.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.
A bit less than half of teens (47%) say they feel this way about social media.
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.
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.