Although there are very few sites dedicated to teen dating online, this page is written for teenagers who use dating sites to meet, and for their parents.
Dating is fun and 21st century kids are hooking up with the opposite sex for friendship, romance, and physical experimentation in greater numbers and at a far younger age than ever before.
New technology such as Internet Chat and phone text messaging makes contact between young people so much easier, more discreet, and in many ways so much more sensible than in earlier generations.
Teenagers in a Technological Age.
The multi media world makes it easy for young people to take adult emotional and physical risks that can put their health and even their lives in danger, and threatens their educational and financial futures.
It may be a great adventure for the kids but its a nightmare for responsible parents.
Television, magazines and the Internet encourages children to grow up earlier. Television soaps and some movies create an illusion of a jet speed world in which relationships are as disposable and interchangeable as clothes. Traditional cautions have been blown away by television, a permissive society, the pill and the decline in religious observance.
The Compromise Between Parents and Children
Parents and Teenagers need to meet on common ground to parlay and not to battle. It should be a place for mutual respect, sharing of views and the freedom to think (by both sides).
To the Parents: Teenage flirting and teenage dating is as inevitable as the sun rising tomorrow and no rules, shouting or threats are going to change the way your teen feels. You should also recongise that your kids will know much more about love, sex and relationships than you believe, and in many cases are better equipped to deal with the situation than you were at their age. Your respect and level headed advice will be much more valuable than aggression or denial.
To the Kids: Yes, its a new world and it belongs to the young. But most parents do actually know what it is like to be in love, to date, to grapple with the complexities of sexual relationships and the heartbreak of faithless or false promises. Some parents have experienced horrors they would never want visited on their children. They are probably instinctively aware of the safety issues in relationships in the same way in earlier years they saw the dangers of swimming pools, hot stoves and stairways. Remember that one day you will be parents and face the same issues with your own children. So give mum and dad a break and listen - even if you pretend not to.
Dating for Fun
The teenage years are a time for shared experiences, enjoyable group activities, and the joys of slowly growing up and learning the wonders of love and intimacy.
So many mistakes can be made which can ruin lives including disease, violence, rape, introduction to drugs and alcohol, and pregnancy. Some of these things happen because of a moment's weakness or not thinking ahead.
Unfortunately much of this may be traced to Internet and Text dating in future years so now is a good time time for teenagers themselves to decide what they want and to regulate their own environments. Most teenagers are informed enough and smart enough to do that now, so take the time to be in control of your love life from an early age.
Some big and legitimate Internet companies are successfully providing safe and largely wholesome sites for teens and these are the right place to develop online relationships. Music, video, blogs and shared thoughts and dreams may befar more satisfactory in the long run than fumbled and embarrassing experiments with adult sexual behaviour.
Dangers of Online Dating
Online dating sites generally refuse membership to those under 16 and there are very few "teenage dating sites" for anybody who is honest enough to state their age as under sixteen. However a savy teen may create a profile that manipulates the dates; and there are other teen community sites which openly allow explicit flirtation and contact between teenage members.
For parents and teens alike it's important to understand the risks involved in teen dating online and not to underestimate the potential for problems. British police now monitor chat rooms in an effort to clamp down on underage offences and worse still on cases of abduction and assault. However individual children and the best person to take control of their surfing risks.
Teens of all ages need to understand that an Internet profile may not be what it seems and that it is essential that all safety rules are followed when flirting with strangers. This goes for boys and girls.
The key advice to adults and teens alike when dating online is to check out the facts and feelings anonymously before making a decision to meet. Chat and exchange information such as music or schoolwork which will establish the age of your contact. This is to make quite certain you are not dealing with a sophisticated adult posing as a child. If you have any suspicions as a result of language or inaccurate experiences drop the person outright. There are plenty more friends out there.
It doesnt matter how exciting an older person may seem, even if they are honest about their age. An older man, particularly, trying to meet a child is a risk and it should not be considered. If you feel pressured suggest he meets you at your home and chats with your parents as well and see if that changes his attitude.
The rising popularity of adult sites for sexually active teens looking to 'hook-up' has alarmed parents and the police. Police statistics show that one in five under 16s is now targeted online by older men with seriously dubious motives.
If you DO decide to meet an Internet contact, dont meet ANYONE privately or in a situation where they might force you into a car or a secluded place. There is no reason why you should not arrange a joint meeting with another teenage friend as first face-to-face encounter as generally you dont expect anything intimate on a first date. Remember, even another teen can be a risk. If you think you would be ashamed to admit to the meeting or be seen with your contact it's probably good reason not to go.
Agree in advance that disclosure is what its all about and neither side should expect personal or private contact on first, or even second date.
Teens need to understand that there is nothing wrong with wanting to meet and to date or to explore relationships on the Internet; but when it comes to dating online, caution is the watchword.