Should teenagers date?
- Pew Research Center reveals that about 35% of teens “have some type of experience in a romantic relationship.”
- Psychology Today reports about teen dating that “1 in 3 young people will be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship before they are adults.”
- According to data from the CDC, 55% of teens “have had sexual intercourse by age 18 and approximately 80% of teens used some form of contraception at first sex.”
- The CDC reports that the US teen birth rate is “substantially higher than in other western industrialized nations.”
Teen dating creates countless opportunities for personal growth. These relationships provide emotional support and social skills development while teaching teens about their identities and priorities. Teenage dating can even foster open communication in the home and generate more face-to-face interactions in an increasingly digital world.
Dating among teens is very common and typically begins from age 14 to 16. This is normal, given the hormonal changes associated with puberty. Desire to explore dating tends to start around this time, regardless of nationality, and includes disabled youth. Even Mormon teens are encouraged to date. Strong data supports the prevalence of sexual exploration in teens, making it essential to acknowledge statistical truths; pushing myths about premarital sex and imposing frequently forgotten abstinence pledges are examples of ignoring the proven realities of teen sexuality.
Teen dating is the norm, and youth often secretly date despite restrictions. When adolescents are forbidden from dating, they’re left to rely solely on their peers and the media to inform and direct them. Secret dating and digital apps can be extremely dangerous for teens, whereas permitted relationships would encourage families to meet teens’ significant others in person, promoting relationship skill-building in a safe and healthy setting.
Teenage romance is a positive experience. Early relationships and dating experiences offer teens chances to practice communication and compromise, expanding their insights and perspectives to boost empathy and respect long term. For a multitude of reasons, experts advise validating rather than downplaying young romance, noting its potential to influence our psychology well into adulthood.
Life isn't easy for teens, especially now, as they face numerous issues such as stress, peer pressure, and bullying. Therefore, the addition of dating and the problems that arise from it are far from welcome for this already vulnerable age group.
One aspect that makes dating challenging for teens is that they are still experiencing ongoing physical and mental development. Take, for instance, the frontal lobe, which is responsible for decision-making and impulse control. Because this part of the brain doesn't develop fully until one's mid-20s, decisions surrounding dating may be poor. This may explain the prevalence of risky sexual behavior among this age group, especially as most teens lack quality sex education. Therefore, not only may teens contract sexually transmitted infections, but they can also be at risk of teen pregnancy.
Another obstacle for teen relationships is a lack of maturity. Without this element, youth may not have developed the solid friendship foundation that successful relationships require. They may also fail to process fading feelings or understand they're being victims of dating violence. Therefore, the romance may end in heartbreak. Teens struggling with other issues on the side may have it worse, as immature romances further affect their body image and self-confidence.
Teenagers who date may also develop symptoms of depression that occur due to variations in partners' personalities and social history, as well as a shifting focus from school, friendships, and family.
With so much at stake, teens should put dating on the back burner for a few more years. Instead, they should use these years to discover themselves. That way, in the future, they can build strong relationships where they and their partners thrive.