Our teens live in a world that has the capacity for consistent communication and connectivity. Long gone are the days when you spent weeks wondering if your date simply lost your number or was trying to blow you off. These days it becomes clear quickly if someone is trying to lose touch.
Our children are being raised in a real time culture. This means that immediate responses are both possible and expected.
Back in the days before cell phones and social media, teen romance seemed to move at a slower pace. It was not unusual to wait a week to hear back after a first or second date. Fast forward to today. Within an hour a social media status change from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’ quickly makes news among a circle of Facebook ‘friends’.
Technology also has the potential to turn up the intensity of a relationship. The ability to remain in constant contact allows the opportunity to be literally connected around the clock. Teens may feel like they really ‘know’ their romantic partner. This opens the door for things to move faster. As a result, crash and burn scenarios seem more common. Perhaps it is ironic that technology encourages this type of intensity. A major criticism of communicating through technology has been that it distances people from one another.
The teen years are fraught with energy, excitement, and well, even drama. Technology has certainly turned up the potential for public criticism and controversy, especially when it comes to teen romance. A suggestive picture with someone other than the current romantic partner can quickly conger up gossip and lead to accusation and confrontation.
Instagram photos and Snap Chat stories can quickly become commandeered by a new teen romance. In an instant however, social media pages can also spread the news ‘it’s over,’ affording all those included an opportunity to sound off condolences or affirmations of relief.
All this input from everywhere adds an intensity, a pressure to teen romance that seems to have been invented along with the technological tools that allow for these real time responses.
The selfie phenomenon also adds the pressure of posting pictures depicting a happy couple. A lack of pictures can sometimes send a red flag to friends that the romance may not be rock solid.
For tweens and young teens, technology sometimes serves as the sole connection between couples. ‘Going out,’ in these situations is often defined by texting back and forth with little or no contact outside and sometimes at school. This is quite a contrast to the intensity encouraged by the consistent connection technology seems to encourage for older teens.
Technology however has also encouraged virtual romances among teens. In these scenarios teens that may live literally worlds or at least a few states away connect via technology. Video chats allow face-to-face interaction while these teens often hatch plans, primarily pipe dreams, about finally meeting in person. Teens who live closer however, do have a real opportunity to make a direct connection. If they have spent time getting to know each other through technology, they may feel an intense bond by the time they meet in person.
Social networking apps such as Tinder, have added a new layer to teen romance, one parents and other adults find somewhat concerning and even dangerous. Classified by many teens as a “hook-up” site, understanding an individual’s intention becomes paramount when arranging a get together as some teens may be looking for real romance or love, while other may see the site as a vehicle to satisfy feelings of lust.
In the age of constant connectivity, and social media mayhem, technology has re-written the rules on teen romance.