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Dating in the digital age

Rhea Jones 002
Rhea Jones/Dear Mom and Dad (BRENT CALVER/Western Wheel)

You officially have eight days to find the perfect date and the perfect plans for Valentine’s Day.

Because obviously, you need to have plans on Valentine’s Day right?

Let’s be honest, the whole idea of Valentine’s Day can be a bit over the top, and it often comes with a lot of pressure. Regardless, it is important to celebrate and explore romantic feelings. Especially for teenagers who are less experienced with dating and all the more curious about it.

The thought of teenagers dating can be uncomfortable for some parents. However, the whole joke of “You can have a boyfriend when you’re 30,” never seems to work out for parents no matter how hard they try.

Although wanting to protect your child from heartbreak and pregnancy is parental instinct, your child is going to have to learn how to socialize with someone they are attracted to eventually, and it only makes sense that they do it while they are young.

Dear Mom and Dad, here’s an insight into how teen dating in 2020 looks different from previous generations and how teenagers feel regarding relationships. Although many may not consider high school dating “real relationships,” Carleigh MacLeod, a 16-year-old student from Foothills Composite High School disagrees.

“It’s up to you and your partner to decide what you want from your relationship and how serious you guys want to be. No one else can decide that for you,” explained Carleigh.

 Carleigh has been dating her boyfriend for three months and says it has had a very positive influence on her.

“I feel like it’s very important for kids to find an interest in either a boy or a girl while they are young. High school is the perfect time to experiment and figure out what you want, because you don’t want to go into university with no experience as it can be harder to experiment there.”

However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to be careful.

“You have to be selective and find that person that you do have similarities with and can have fun with,” says Carleigh.

Even though young relationships don’t always last forever, they have helped Carleigh, and many other teenagers, figure out what they do or don’t want in a partner.

All adults were once teenagers and know what it’s like to be young and curious.

However, dating changes from generation to generation and with all the new technology it’s certain that there are some major differences in how teenagers interact. In the past, to get to know somebody took a lot of awkward conversations before you really became comfortable with someone.

Nowadays, kids get to know each other through their phones, and not even through phone calls…. they get to know someone by texting or snapchatting them.

Although this eliminates the awkward factor it also eliminates the authentic factor and the chance to read body language or chemistry. Due to the ability to meet potential partners through dating apps or by “sliding into their DM’s (direct message on Instagram)” teens never actually get a chance to overcome the fear of approaching someone and therefore, struggle with developing certain communication and social skills.

To limit this awkwardness, it can be helpful for kids to hang out in groups and do something active for the first few times meeting with someone. This can fuel conversations and help teens feel more comfortable around each other. 

In March we will be discussing the effects and pressures of social media that rule teen’s worlds. Do you think social media helps or hinders your confidence?

Let me know at westernwheel@okotoks.greatwest.ca




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