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S., over 100 teens shared with us their personal experiences with social media and romantic relationships. During the focus groups, technology – and especially social media – often was described as an integral part of the courting process for teens.

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I don’t know about other people, but for me, like, I personally hate hurting people and seeing them getting sad because of something I did to hurt them. So I guess that’s why lots of people just keep it to text.

So for me, I mean, I know it’s not the best thing, but usually over text I just ... And usually breaking up is really a hard thing for me. I still feel bad about it, but usually texting is just better for me. They don’t have to deal with, like, seeing the person’s face when they break up with them.

Many teens are online throughout the day on multiple platforms where their communications are visible to others, and dodging or screening communications from one’s significant other in this environment is fraught with challenges. But if you’re kind of like, oh, it’s kind of a like a waste of time, then you won’t do that.

Teens in our focus groups described how a delay by their significant other in responding to a text message or phone call can make them feel ignored or unimportant, especially when they can see on social media that their partner is online: So recently, actually, like two days ago, my girlfriend actually got her phone taken away by her mom. So like a day or two passed by, I'm like wondering if I should text her. Check to see if she's looked at my Snap or whatever. But publicly sharing the details of one’s romantic life online is not without potential pitfalls, and many teens elect to not document their relationships in this way.

But even as text messaging and social media play a pronounced role in all other aspects of teen life, teens feel strongly that an in-person conversation -- or at worst, a phone call -- is the most socially acceptable way to break up with someone.

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