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Adolescence is a time of incredibly physical, social and emotional growth, and peer relationships – especially romantic ones – are a major social focus for many youth.

Understanding the role social and digital media play in these romantic relationships is critical, given how deeply enmeshed these technology tools are in lives of American youth and how rapidly these platforms and devices change.

This study reveals that the digital realm is one part of a broader universe in which teens meet, date and break up with romantic partners.

While most teen romantic relationships do not start online, technology is a major vehicle for flirting and expressing interest in a potential partner.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.Among all teens: Each of the flirting behaviors measured in the survey is more common among teens with previous dating experience than among those who have never dated before.But while some of these behaviors are at least relatively common among dating neophytes, others are almost entirely engaged in by teens with prior relationship experience.When it comes to “entry-level” flirting, teens who have never been in a romantic relationship are most comfortable letting someone know that they are interested in them romantically using the following approaches: Not all flirting behavior is appreciated or appropriate.One-quarter (25%) of all teens have unfriended or blocked someone on social media because that person was flirting in a way that made them uncomfortable.Just as adult women are often subject to more frequent and intense harassment online, teen girls are substantially more likely than boys to experience uncomfortable flirting within social media environments.Fully 35% of all teen girls have had to block or unfriend someone who was flirting in a way that made them uncomfortable, double the 16% of boys who have taken this step.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.At the same time, teens’ use of social media sites can also lead to feelings of jealousy or uncertainty about the stability of their relationships.However, even teens who indicate that social media has played a role in their relationship (whether for good or for bad) tend to feel that its role is relatively modest in the grand scheme of things.

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