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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.
Girls are especially likely to support friends’ relationships on social media: 71% of girls with dating experience have done so, compared with 57% of boys.
But even as they use social media to show affection, display their relationships and support their friends’ relationships, many teen daters also express annoyance at the public nature of their own romantic partnerships on social media.
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.
Asked how often they spent time with their current or former boyfriend, girlfriend or significant other on particular platforms, teen daters told us they use: The most socially acceptable way to break up with someone is by having an in-person conversation, and these conversations are the most common way that breakups occur in a “real-world” setting.
Some 27% of teens with relationship experience have broken up with someone via text message, 31% have been broken up with in this way.
Phone calls, which are seen as the second-most acceptable way of breaking up with someone, are just as common as a breakup text; 29% of teens with relationship experience have broken up with someone over the phone, and 27% have been broken up with in this way.
While most teens rate an in-person talk as the most acceptable way to break up with someone, some 62% of teens with relationship experience have broken up with someone in person, and 47% have been broken up with through an in-person discussion.
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.
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.