By Rachel Rosen If you’re anything like me, there was probably a time when you thought that online dating services weren’t likely to be an issue for children and their families.
Surely all dating sites and apps, designed to help people find romantic and sexual matches, would have a strict 18 age limit, right? For one thing, it’s not hard to lie about your age on most free dating sites.
The trends were widespread, appearing across gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, region of the country, and whether the teens were in urban or rural locations, suggesting “a broad cultural shift.” While the causes are unclear, the changes are dramatic.
The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns.
Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.
One cultural shift that might help to explain this is the rise of technology.
While the authors were careful to note that they could not identify a strong link between teens’ more prudish behavior and smartphones, Twenge makes that case in her recent story in the Atlantic, which cites some of the same data.
You could also remind your child of ways to connect with people their own age offline.
Even if it’s scary to reach out in person, the risk of a quick rejection is much less serious than meeting someone malicious or dishonest.
Apparently 1 in 5 relationships now begins online, so if teens are interested, maybe it’s because they’re following our example.
For all their interest in sex and relationships, teens can be quite shy about actually speaking to the people they fancy.
Coupled with longer life expectancies and lower teen birth rates, teens now have the freedom to be younger longer and are choosing to do so, the authors argue.