The ups and downs of teenage digital dating

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ElectronicLoveBy Allison Eatough

Cary, a mom of four from Ellicott City, laughed when her 17-year-old son explained how two of his friends were "talking."

That's because talking, in the world of teenage romantic relationships, doesn't mean talking at all.

"There's a whole new terminology," says Cary, who is using only her first name to not embarrass her teens. "'We're talking' means just texting. They're getting to know each other. It's a precursor to dating, but there's no talking going on."

Whether they are just getting to know each other, sharing photos, breaking up or even making up, teenagers are carrying on entire romantic relationships via electronic devices and social media these days, parents and experts say. Call it digital dating if you will.

"Social media has become that bridge to experience the boy or girl that they have spied as interesting or good looking from profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter," says Jacqueline Del Rosario, a Florida-based relationship coach.

Dates and long conversations have been replaced by tidbits of information gathered while searching for photos, likes and comments their "special someone" has made in cyberspace, she says.

While there are some benefits to these online romances, experts say teens and their parents should be aware of inevitable challenges.

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