Our expert Robert Weiss, MSW, C-SAT, who has a regular blog on Huffington Post, published a fascinating read on the changing way young people interact, relate, and date in the digital age. In “Love, Digital Style: The New Generation Gap,” Weiss discusses how intimacy, expectations, and roles have changed as the younger generation communicates more electronically than face-to-face.
There is little doubt the growing chasm between digital natives and immigrants centers on the use of technology for purposes of interpersonal connection. In 2009, a study conducted by the Pew Research Center indicated that more than half of American teens logged onto a social media website more than once per day, with nearly a quarter of teens logging on 10 or more times per day. And that was in 2009, the beginning of the social media boom! A more recent Pew study shows the median number of daily texts among teens aged 12 to 17 has risen from 50 texts per day in 2009 to 60 texts per day today, with girls aged 14 to 17 the most avid texters, averaging more than 100 per day. This same survey also revealed that texting is now the primary mode of daily communication between teens and their friends and family, far surpassing phone calls, face-to-face interactions, and emailing. The appeal of texting appears to be the ability to be “in touch” without directly engaging another person. In this way teens are able to “control” their social interactions.
These “digital natives” are much more likely to have shorter relationships, marry later (if at all), and prefer intimacy that is more digital than physical. He voices some concern about the impact on young men:
Not only are young men not “in sync” with their potential partners, they may actually be losing interest in those partners! Numerous studies show that a consistent pattern of porn use can result in both short- and long-term sexual and intimacy dysfunction. In fact, a rapidly growing percentage of digital natives report literally being disinterested, even turned off by “in the flesh” sex.
As well as discusses the changes that have occurred among young women:
The digital divide exists for women, as well. One potentially illuminating measure is porn use. Studies show that younger females (digital natives) are more likely to use porn than their elders. They are also more likely to be “accepting” of porn use. Of interest in this area is the fact that porn acceptance by women (even more so than actual porn use) positively correlates with a desire for later marriage, at a time when both partners in the marriage are financially independent.