If you’re the parent of a teenager, the thought of them dating probably makes you cringe. Dating brings along socialization pressures, emotional issues and the pressure to have sex… all of which can have damaging results. Nevertheless, many teens can’t wait to enter the dating world.
Just how many teens are dating?
According to numbers from the US National Library of Medicine and Health, out of 5,000 18-year-olds surveyed, 47.2% said they were dating. Meantime, the Pew Research Center reports that 35% of 13-17 year-olds said they had been in a romantic relationship. While it may seem as though “all teenagers” are dating, the numbers prove that’s not the case.
Why Teen Dating May Not be the Best Idea
A new study finds that teens who wait to date may actually be better off than those who couple up at a younger age.
Researchers at the University of Georgia looked at dating scores of about 600 10th grade students in Georgia. They asked teens questions about their friendships, home, and school lives. They also dove into issues like depression and feelings of sadness. Researchers talked to teachers about students’ social and leadership skills, as well, to get a better picture of what’s going on.
Non-dating teens were less depressed than their peers who were in relationships. And, single students had better social skills. The research also supports the idea that teens who date later may also have stronger family relationships and be more committed to their education.
In an online interview for Elemental, Pamela Orpinas, co-author of the study said, “Non-dating students are doing well and are simply following a different and healthy developmental trajectory than their dating peers.”
Is Teen Dating a Bad Thing?
There’s no cut and dry answer to the question, but there is evidence to support the idea that teen dating can bring on other behaviors. Studies done in the US and Canada show that drug and alcohol abuse tend to be linked to early teen dating. Researchers point out that there’s a lot of experimentation that goes on in the teenage years when it comes to drugs, alcohol and relationships.
It’s important to remember each teenager is different and will react to situations in their own way. If you have concerns, talk to your teen to get the full picture.