Teens, tech and changing times

Technology has changed what communication means in teenage relationships

It is 1985 in Canton, Michigan, and students in the Plymouth-Canton school district are coming and going from the local roller rink, Skatin’ Station. Jennifer Hammerberg being one of those students. 

Once inside, Hammerberg is absorbed by the colors and loud chatter of her friends and the music in the background. 

You could get dropped off and picked up there by your parents and they felt like it was safe because you were supposed to be in the building the whole time. Of course some kids didn’t go in,” Hammerberg said.

Teens may still go out on dates and meet each other in person but one major change has occurred: the introduction of social media and technology.

It seems like when I watched my daughter interact with her friends and boyfriend, it was mostly over social media or text,” Hammerberg said. “Oftentimes, she was socializing with other people, but she was alone in her room. But, in her mind, she wasn’t alone because she was engaging with her friends.”

In a study done by Pew Research Center, 92% of teens text their partners, many list this 

as “the top method, but phone calling and in-person time mix with other digital means for staying in touch.” 

Spending time together outside of school was third on the list. 

Communication and trust are the two most common responses given by students when asked about the most important part of a relationship.

 “It’s easier for people not to talk face to face or on the phone,” Hammerberg said. “It’s much easier and less anxiety provoking to text somebody a message, send a meme or an emoji or something like that.”

Hammerberg thinks teens can kind of hide behind their screens.

“I don’t think that people are putting themselves out there as who they really are; I think it’s causing people to be less than who they are.” 

These new means of communication are much preferred by teens and value is put in texting.

“I think technology is honestly dire to our relationship actually because we fall asleep on the phone at night together,” senior Hannah Lockhart said. “We text literally, like, every hour of every day. If she’s not in my class, we’re texting.”