Indeed, 25% of all teens (representing one-third of teen social media users) have unfriended or blocked someone on social media because that person was flirting in a way that made them uncomfortable. However, other approaches – online as well as offline – are relatively popular as well: Around one-quarter of teens (26%) say they would not ask at all – that they would wait for the person they were interested in to ask them first – while 6% indicate they would ask the person out using some option other than the ones listed above.

Teens in our focus group described a variety of practices for flirting on social media. But despite the wide range of communication technologies available to modern teens, the time-tested tradition of asking in person continues to be the main way teens would ask out someone they were interested in.

One high school girl explained: “A little bit more bold over text, because you wouldn’t say certain things in person. you just wouldn’t say certain things in, like, talking face to face with them because that might be kind of awkward. Cause they’re not really there.” Many teens use social media as a venue to flirt and interact with potential romantic partners, but for those on the receiving end of those advances, social media flirting can often turn in a much less desirable direction. Some 52% of teens say if they wanted to ask someone out on a date, they would usually do that in person.

Facebook was mentioned 46 times in the open-ended responses to this question, while the second-most popular (Instagram) was cited only eight times. I still talk to her, but we’re not together.” And for some teens, online relationships, like offline ones, can be uncomfortable and devolve into creepy situations. Older teens ages 15 to 17 are more likely than younger teens to search for information online about current or prospective romantic partners, with 35% of older teens searching, while 16% of younger teens do so.

Twitter, Kik and online gaming also were mentioned in a small number of responses, as were a range of other social media, video and chat sites (Hot or Not, IMVU, My Space, Omegle, Meet Me and Snap Chat each were mentioned once in these responses). One high school girl related the experience of one of her friends: High School Girl: “She met this guy through Facebook and … But he said he lived in Florida and then last weekend, she got a ring in the mail from him. Similarly, older teens are more likely than younger ones to search for information online about a past romantic partner – while 17% of 15- to 17-year-olds have searched for information about someone they dated or hooked up with in the past, just 7% of all 13- to 14-year-olds have done so.

For example, there is a 15-point gap between older and younger teens when it comes to sending flirtatious messages (37% of older teens and 22% of younger teens have done so), but a substantially larger 49-point gap between those who are or have been in a relationship of some kind and those who have not (63% of teens with relationship experience have sent flirtatious messages to someone, compared with just 14% of those without).

There also are some modest differences relating to race and ethnicity in terms of the ways in which teens show interest in potential romantic partners. And then I didn’t want to talk to her anymore because it was creepy, and she tracked my phone to my house. She was on the lawn and she used lots of vulgar language …

Like I was on [the app-based messaging service] Kik the other day. This tendency among girls to wait for someone to ask them out first is true for both younger and older teens.

However, girls tend to take a more active role in reaching out to potential dating partners as they get older.

For teens who meet romantic partners online, it is common for those relationships to never actually progress to the point of a physical meeting. Given the number of years today’s teens have been using social media and the volume of content posted to social media profiles, potential suitors have access to a motherlode of material on their crush.