Adolescents' Mate Search in the Digital Age: Insights From a Mobile Diary Study

Marta Tienda , Princeton University
Jay Weistreich, University of Maryland

This study uses intensive longitudinal data from the mDiary Study of Adolescent Relationships (mDiary) and six waves of birth cohort data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) (1) to investigate where teenagers meet their mates, and specifically which teen attributes are associated with partnering online; (2) to assess how relationships formed online differ from those formed in person (e.g., in duration, continuity, quality, age and ethnic congruence, and relationship type); and (3) to identify the correlates of adolescent partnering venues, including whether parenting style and internet monitoring behavior is associated with the odds of partnering online. Descriptive analyses show that one-in-five respondents formed a romantic relationship with a partner met online, and that the Internet has become an important social intermediary for teenagers’ partnering behavior. Multivariate analyses will assess whether teens’ online sorting behavior reinforces or attenuates disadvantages among vulnerable youth.

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 Presented in Session 2. Children & Youth