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StarBulletin.com

Online dating gains popularity with teens


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POSTED: Monday, February 09, 2009

Do flowers, balloons and chocolates for Valentine's Day still mean romance in this ever-changing technological age? Has dating gone the way of the typewriter?

“;Dating means seeing different people and going to the mall, beach or movies together,”; senior Brissa Yamamura said. “;There are no commitments, and it only becomes exclusive when both individuals want to move further into the relationship. Dating is for fun, not always lasting relationships.”;

Others hold a more old-fashioned view of dating.

“;Dating means spending time with one boy at a time,”; senior Kristina Aoki said. “;Dating helps me learn my preference in types of boys and for what characteristics to pursue in a boyfriend. Dating has a purpose to develop wholesome relationships and shouldn't be pursued frivolously.”;

Regardless of how teens interpret it, the rules of dating have changed considerably. Meeting boys in person and having them meet the family are no longer as common as they used to be. Chatting and getting to know one another in Internet game rooms, meeting and texting via introductions from friends or even virtual boyfriends who are never seen in person are all considered part of the dating scene for many teens in Hawaii and across the nation.

The Internet has especially proved to be a boon to teens looking for friends, including boyfriends.

“;Social networks, such as MySpace and Facebook, are helpful in learning about each other when starting a relationship,”; junior Mary Kate Kruse said. “;These networks help us meet boys but must be used cautiously because they may not reveal the person's personality, and sometimes they are unsafe. Online dating and the easy accessibility in creating false profiles make people vulnerable to a distorted truth. When both individuals feel comfortable around each other, they should stop relying on technology to keep their relationship alive and rely on face-to-face interaction.”;

Counselor Lisa Vega cautioned, “;Individuals planning to go on a date with someone they have met online must take all safety precautions. Going on group dates to busy places is probably the safest idea because although individuals may feel familiar with each other, they are ultimately strangers.”;

Junior Megan Rolfe said, “;Although my school reminds me of online safety, I still choose to use MySpace for its convenience in networking. Because I don't hear from him every day, I learn to value the conversations with my online boyfriend. However, I am unable to trust him completely because he interacts with lots of girls outside and during school.”;

Even with positive experiences, dating in the cyberworld still has its shortcomings.

“;Because online dating Web sites, such as bulletin board system and eHarmony, have sophisticated and thorough methods of matching individuals, the likelihood of a good match is higher,”; said former Academy teacher Jennifer Higa, who met her husband online. “;However, computers aren't human; they can't really let me know if someone has a quirk that I'll find intriguing or annoying.”;

Some teens prefer communicating through text messages because of convenience and speed.

“;My friends got to know each other through other friends,”; junior Malia Nishijima said. “;After getting to know each other through text messages, they slowly became romantically involved. They agreed to meet because they were unsure if the spark they felt through text messages would be felt in real life.”;

Despite the decreasing interest in traditional dating, there are still many people who value courtship, loyalty and sincerity.

“;My boyfriend and I are traditional daters,”; junior Khristine Brunn said. “;I am shy and wait for him to make the first move, plan our date and provide transportation for me. We are supportive of each other's activities. I attend his performances, while he comes to my dance concerts. He has met my parents and spends time with my family. On Valentine's Day, I look forward to spending time with my boyfriend, who always comes up with surprises.”;