How Social Networking Sites Have Changed the Face of College Dating and Relationships
Dear April Masini,
My son is in his sophomore year of college, and when I visit him (if he allows me), I am reminded of all the wild times I had in school. There are thousands of people his age all on one campus, but he is content simply meeting people through sites like Facebook or MySpace. Is that normal or a healthy way to develop dating skills? Do you have any advice on online dating through social networking sites and whether or not it's a safe and normal way to start a relationship?"
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Campus Dad,
College students have bravado, but they don't necessarily have confidence. Especially when it comes to social and sexual dynamics. This means that even though they have an entire college campus full of hundreds of thousands of eligible singles to choose from for social relationships, they are often too shy or insecure to come right out and ask for what they want. Online dating services allow young adults with very little experience a safe way to socialize with little risk of embarrassment. Online dating allows anonymity and privacy that face-to-face or even phone-to-phone don't offer. If a college student commits what they feel is a major faux pas, they can easily just not write back to their online chat partner -- without having to face them in class or on campus -- because they are anonymous.
In addition, online dating allows college students with heavy course loads to "compartmentalize." This means that they can focus all their energies on their pre-med or business school courses while they are in class and in the library, and know that when they are ready to chat, flirt or date, with online dating they can set up a casual or serious date or conversation in minutes. Someone is always online.
Individuality is a double-edged sword. Some college students have confidence in who they are -- whether it's gay or straight, kinky or traditional, etc. -- and experimentation is easier with online dating access. College students can try a bi-sexual date or a gay or lesbian date without risking the social comments of their peers were they to engage in this behavior in person on campus. Regardless of judgment, the internet dating websites allow college students this option.