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Teen Dating: Cautions of Online Dating and Teens

Teen dating is part of our kids growing up.

Now this part of life is compounded with the use of the digital world.

Skout, a mobile flirting application that uses GPS technology has been linked to three instances of sexual assault in recent weeks. In response, the under-18 portion of the community has been shut down as its organizers work to develop better safeguards.

The mobile dating site, which was originally created for adults, uses GPS technology that allows users to see nearby singles. In a safety precaution, the app does not reveal street addresses.

However, if you were at your neighborhood grocery store, you would be able to check your phone to see if another single was in the area, check the profile and then send an IM or text if you were interested in meeting that person.

In the teen version of Skout, the app pinpointed other users’ locations within a half-mile radius, and though it was supposed to be a safeguard, it proved to be the perfect tool for predators to scout their victims. In all three instances, adults took advantage of underage teens; but GPS is also a tool that can be used in teenaged dating abuse.

A technologically savvy teen can use GPS to monitor a dating partner, either through cell phones or other devices. Often, GPS isn’t needed to monitor a teenager’s location.

With the ability to update a Facebook status, Tweet or even “Check-in” via Facebook, teenagers are revealing their locations all the time.

In the past, teen dating abuse was more easily identified. Ten years ago, when landlines were the norm and phone bills had limited minutes, abusive behavior like excessive phone calls would have been easy to identify. Today, teens can put their cell phones on silent and receive unlimited texts, masking abusive behavior from parents.

“I call it an electronic leash,” said psychotherapist Dr. Jill Murray in an interview with ABC News. “I’ve had girls come into my office with cell phone bills showing 9,000 text messages and calls in a month. This is all hours of the day and night. And it’s threatening.’Hi. How are you? Where are you? Who are you with? Who are you talking to?’” Considering a teen’s constant attachment to his or her cell phone, the potential control for the abuser is virtually unlimited.

In addition to the private world of text messaging, the world of social media offers abusive teens a public platform to humiliate and degrade their partners.

Teens can use Facebook or Twitter to insult their partners or reveal embarrassing, false or intimate information about the victim. Abusive partners can even use this potential public humiliation as a form of blackmail.

You might be surprised to learn just how common it is for teens to develop an abusive relationship. The National Center for Victims of Crime cites that over 40 percent of both genders report having been involved in some form of dating violence at least once during high school.

If you recognize that your teen is in an abusive relationship, your first reaction may be to begin limiting freedoms such as Internet and cell phone use, but often teens in an abusive relationship don’t confide in their parents for fear of such restrictions.

Remember, the victim in an abusive relationship is often made to feel as though he or she has done something wrong. A reaction that could be seen as a “punishment” could only increase feelings of low self-esteem and could further alienate your teen from you and other positive support groups – while the abuser will see the opportunity to slip into the position of the ally.

Instead of revoking mobile access, you could recommend this app for your teen. It was made for college students, as a peer-based support system to help escape social situations, but it can easily apply to the teen dating world. In this app, GPS is used to empower the victim, proving that technology can be a helpful tool in avoiding abuse.

The app is called “Circle of 6” and it allows users to easily contact 6 people with discreet SOS messages:

“Come and get me. I need help getting home safely. My GPS coordinates are…” and “Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.”

If you notice that your teen’s partner is becoming too controlling, a good strategy is to engage in a project or take more trips together. You can also offer to facilitate outings for your teen and his or her friends. You can also go on trips and invite your teen and his or her significant other. The goal is to offer your teen examples of healthy, positive relationships that will contrast the negative emotions spurred by the abusive one.

Contributor: Amelia Wood is a blogger and freelance writer who often writes to explain medical billing and coding online. She welcomes your questions and comments at amelia1612@gmail.com.

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Teen Relationships: Summer Flings and Teen Sex

Teenagers are no different than adults, they want to find love and find that relationship that they believe can fill their lives.

As summer is here, school is out and teens are looking forward to their time off.  Whether they are traveling with their family or off to summer camp, most will be meeting new people and building new relationships.

Love is the most influential, powerful state of being that any of us will ever encounter or experience in the course of our lives. It is beyond emotion, as it encompasses and affects all levels of our actions, thoughts, inspirations and aspirations. To be devoid of love is to be absent of life. The elements of love are intertwined and dependent upon one another; and, in most instances, are realized upon reciprocity. Any deficiency of these elements, or ‘links’, would therefore compromise the ‘chain’ that binds and holds each component together, and love will suffer.

Trust – This may be considered the most challenging element of love. You grant another person the right to hold your life, your emotions in their hands. You don’t question their intention as you firmly believe and confirm that they will not do you harm and, instead, will flourish with such privilege.

Honesty – There is no true love relationship that may occur without honesty. While certain truths may be painful to expose and share at times, the act and willingness to put truth above self-preservation is a constant testimony to that attests to the claim of love.

Tolerance – We are all predisposed to idiosyncrasies and quirks inherent in our personalities; and, in general, these are very good things. Oftentimes, however, such things may go across the grain of those closest to you. Tolerance permits these differences in actions or thoughts and accepts the  them in the other’s composition as part of who they are, and not an affront to who they are.

Forgiveness -It is impossible to embrace another so closely without, at some time, hurting or disappointing them in some way. Forgiveness is the power and strength the ‘victim’ renders that indicates that the relationship is more important than the injury they feel has been done to them.

Kindness -As simple as this may appear, it is the food that helps a relationship to grow. Kindness acknowledges a unique awareness of the other person. It demonstrates gratitude and sensitivity in the relationship.

Security -While often difficult to foster and maintain in a relationship, security is closely related  to trust. When you are secure in the relationship, envy and jealousy are less likely to raise their ugly heads. Security dismisses the notion that a partner may hold something or someone else in higher regard or interest.

Understanding/Compassion -It’s important to achieve an understanding of the motivations and values of your partner.  True understanding and compassion recognizes that both the strengths, and weaknesses of another, equally comprise the total makeup of who they are.

Commitment -While some may see this is as a form of personal sacrifice, it is really quite the opposite.  To be dedicated to the wants, needs and aspirations of your partner is truly noble and selfless. With commitment, your focus is on striving, to the best of your ability, to encourage anything that will bring prosperity and happiness to the other; and to do so without self-interest.

Respect -It’s important to avoid anything that would hinder the growth of the partner and, subsequently, the success of the relationship.  This is achieved by showing respect for the partner and the relationship, at all times.

Desire–This would be considered the delicate thread that weaves through all those elements listed above.  Without the passionate desire to meld with another, the concept of love would certainly be an exercise in futility.

As the title states, these are the ten words that describe love to me. You may have a different list, but it was a good exercise for me. Sometimes it helps just to think through what we really mean, when we use a word like ‘love’.

Source:  Top Dating Sites

Chat-Roulette: 10 Things You Need to Know

Be an educated parent. Know who your teens are chatting with.

As the Internet and social networking expands there are always new concerns.  Last year Chat-Roulette made the headlines across the nation, including Florida.

With summer almost here, many teens will have more time online and more time for hanging out.  Know who they are chatting with and always be in the know when they are actually meeting someone in person.

More than 30% of new couples meet online.  Online dating has become the second most popular way to meet people behind friends.  That’s almost 1 out of every 3 couples met online.  This has increased dramatically in the last few years.  Dating websites are everywhere.  Homosexual couples are twice as likely to meet online at a whopping 61 %.  Chat roulette is the latest craze in meeting people online. 

Check out 10 things you didn’t know about chat roulette.

  1. What is Chat Roulette? Chat roulette is an online site where you meet and chat with people through web cams.  If you don’t like who you are matched up with you can click on next and like roulette the people spin and you randomly get another person to chat with.
  2. Where did Chat Roulette originate? As funny as it sounds it was invented in Russia just like Russian roulette.
  3. Can anyone use a Chat Roulette site? No, many of the sites are limited to adults only because sometimes people show more than just their faces on the video chats.  There can be nudity or crude behavior.
  4. What can you do if you want a more wholesome chat roulette? There are sites that specialize in a more family friendly chat roulette.  There are also ones that are made for a younger audience on the “teen only” sites.
  5. Who invented Chat Roulette? Andrey Turnovskiy, a 17-year-old boy, in Moscow, invented it.  He wrote the first version in about 48 hours straight.  He has made many revisions since the first version.
  6. Is Chat Roulette very popular? There can be approximately 35,000 users chatting in any particular day.
  7. Does it cost anything to do Chat Roulette? No, if you own a web cam, a computer and have Internet service you are set to go.
  8. Can I be anonymous on Chat Roulette? Well, yes and no.  You can wear a mask or something to hide your face, but it is possible to record the chat sessions and post them to Facebook or other sites.  They also keep track of IP addresses so if you do something wrong they can block you from the site.
  9. What was the very first Chat Roulette called? It was actually just called chatroulette.  There are many others that have tried to duplicate the popularity of this site, but so none have accomplished it.
  10. Can I choose who I talk to? At the beginning you had absolutely no choice.  You could end up chatting with a man or a woman, someone in another country or someone that doesn’t even speak the same language.  Now, there are certain choices you can make like choosing what language you want.

Teen Dating: 10 Places Teens Go on a First Date

It’s a big deal when teenagers are finally allowed to date. But, since most young’ins are strapped for cash, can’t drive and have to be home before midnight, they’ve got to get creative when planning a fun first date that their parents will approve of their date will enjoy.

Here are 10 places teens go on a first date:

  1. Movies: The movies are a popular place for teens to go to on a first date because it’s casual, cheap and fun. They can go to a matinee or use their student discount to save money on tickets and put it towards important things like popcorn and candy.
  2. Ice Skating Rink: Ice skating is a fun and romantic first date for teenagers, especially if one person needs help skating. They can hold hands and talk as they circle the rink, and sip on hot chocolate when the Zamboni resurfaces the ice.
  3. Arcades: Many teen first dates take place in arcades because it’s good old-fashioned fun. Teens love to challenge each other to a game of air hockey, skee-ball and Ms. Pac-Man, while playfully flirting over who’s better. Arcades offer hours of fun and are relatively cheap.
  4. Restaurants: Many teenagers’ first dates involve going to a restaurant. Teens probably won’t have enough money for anywhere nice, but they can typically afford pizza, burgers and other inexpensive meals. Hopefully, they know to tip and how much is appropriate.
  5. Dances: Teenagers love to dance, and considering the amount of dances that happen every year, it’s no surprise that it’s a favorite activity for first dates. Teenagers can bring their dates to school dances, church dances and other dance functions, where they can hang out with friends and show off their cool dance moves.
  6. Mall: Teens love to stroll the mall and shop during first dates. They might buy some candy at the candy store, peruse the kiosks or make a stuffed animal at Build-A-Bear Workshop. But, teens don’t have to buy anything to have fun at the mall &mdash they can just hang out and talk at the food court, arcade or movie theater inside the mall.
  7. Bowling Alley: The bowling alley is a popular place for teenagers’ first dates because it’s fun and interactive. They can play against each other or form teams with friends to make it competitive and a good time for all participants. Bowling can get expensive, but teens might be able to go at cheaper times and use student discounts.
  8. Miniature Golf: Teens love to play miniature golf on first dates because it’s cheap and good ole’ competitive fun. They can talk and get to know each other while put-putting along. Afterward, they can check out the go-karts or challenge each other in the arcade room.
  9. Coffee Shop: Teenagers may not be coffee drinkers, but they sure do love to meet up at local coffee shops for their first dates. No matter your age, it’s always fun to sit down in a comfy chair and get to know someone over a cup of Joe or hot chocolate.
  10. Paintball Park: Teens love to take their dates paintballing because it’s a fun and competitive activity. It may not be the most romantic thing to treat your date like a blank canvas, but it is a great way to ease the first date jitters and see a different side of your date.

Special contributor:  Mary Edwards

Q.  How old should your teen be when they first start dating?

A.  It depends on the teenager.  Some teens are more mature and ready than others.  The average age, depending on the parents rules, is usually around 15 or 16 years old.

Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: ‘SKINS’ Where Teens Are Teens?

Viewer discretion advised…

Is that enough to convince your teen to watch with caution?  It seems most of today’s society simply ignore any warnings of viewer discretion announcement.

Reality shows are definitely the trend and there is no denying, they are becoming more and more popular with all ages, but what happens when it involves minors?  Toddlers and Tiarras has had much controversary, not to mention Jersey Shore.  From toddlers to young adults, when is enough – ENOUGH?

The controversy surrounding MTV’s no-holds-barred teen drama “Skins” is shaking up parents as as as the Parents Television Council (PTC). Just days after the U.S. version of the British teen series first aired,  PTC has urged the federal government to investigate the show for possible violations of child pornography laws.

According to the president of PTC, Tim Winter, “You have a major conglomerate, Viacom and MTV, that is directly marketing to children graphic sex, profanity, drug use.”

Seen on the Today Show (must watch video), legal analyst and victims’ rights advocate Wendy Murphy not only sees the PTC’s point, she anticipates Viacom’s defense.

Their defense is likely to be ‘oh, come on, this is just a television show,’ but that’s not really a defense, because that’s not the issue,” Murphy explained. “The only issue is, are there kids involved who are under the age of 18? That’s it! That’s enough!  That’s child pornography.”

For those that have not heard of this new show, Skins is not a reality show, it is actually scripted and the actors are between the ages of 15-18 years-old.  They are participating in disturbing acts such as sex, drugs and more.  Is this legal?

Let’s hear your opinion.  Leave your comments below.

Alexis P. of Ft. Lauderdale commented, “When my 14 year-old son sees a view discretion warning, he continues watching as if it wasn’t there.  It is ridiculous to believe that parents are able to control everything their kids are watching and it is a shame people see this trash as entertainment.”

MTV issued a statement on Today Show as follows:

Skins’ is a show that addresses real-world issues confronting teens in a frank way,” the statement read. “We are confident that the episodes of ‘Skins’ will not only comply with all applicable legal requirements, but also with our responsibilities to our viewers.”

Let’s go back to the beginning, who is really reading Viewer Discretion Advised? Most likely, not the kids watching it – those words usually peak the curiosity of most teens and tweens.

Be an educated parent, know what your kids are watching.

Read more.

Sue Scheff: Sex in the City – Why Are Teens Having Sex?

Whether you have had an opportunity to watch 16 and Pregnant or Teen Moms, there is one common thread that weaves through these shows:  Teenage girls seem to believe having a baby will keep their boyfriend or having a baby will give them someone to love them unconditionally.

Every day, more than 2,000 teen girls in the United States get pregnant. In fact, 3 in 10 girls will become pregnant by age 20. Not having sex is the only sure way to avoid pregnancy, though there are a lot of other good reasons to wait, too. But if you’re having sex, you must use birth control carefully and correctly every single time you do.- Stay Teen

Teens and sex is a growing subject that has more resources and information than ever before.  Educating parents, teachers and teenagers is a commitment everyone needs to have.  Stay Teen is one of several valuable websites that offers a vast amount of information about having sex and/or considering having sex.

One common question is, “why’d you do it?”  Here are some of answers from Stay Teen:

  • I’m curious – I want to experiment/ get experience.
  • I just want to get this first time out of the way.
  • Sex is no big deal. Everyone is doing it.
  • Every one of my friends has had sex – I’m the only hold out. I feel like a wierdo.
  • The popular kids in my school are the ones who have sex – I want to fit in with them.
  • My partner really wants me to do it – he/ she says that it’ll bring us closer together/ prove my love/ show my commitment.
  • There’s nothing to do in this town but have sex.
  • I won’t really know how compatible we are until we’ve had sex.
  • My parents are so controlling and strict – they’d freak out if they knew I was having sex.
  • We’ve already had sex once – I can’t very well say no now.
  • It’s just a “friends-with-benefits” thing – what’s the big deal?

Think you might not be ready yet? Check out the Waiting page for more.  Visit www.stayteen.org for more educational information.

In South Florida, Planned Parenthood can help you educate your teens on sex and if they are considering have it.  Teen Talk is targeted at discussing sex education and protection with your teens.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens. Read more.

Sue Scheff: Teen Dating – What is age appropriate?

Many parents will cringe when they even think about their precious “children” reaching the age of dating.  Whether you believe it is 16 years-old or 26-years-old, there are worries and stress at all ages.  As a parent, worrying is a built in feature that comes with parenting – especially teens.

Teen dating can be an exciting and fun time where self confidence is built up, and dating techniques are learned. Teens also learn how to be both assertive and compromising, how to be giving to another and how to expect the same in return. All of this is a sort of practice session in order to find that “right” person.

Unfortunately, too often teens start dating with no preparatory talks from their parents and then they can lead to trouble. According to Planned Parenthood, about 10 percent of teenage girls in the U.S. become pregnant before age 20. And the U.S. Attorney General reports that 38 percent of date rape victims are girls between the age of 14 and 17.

Talk to your children. Teach them how to date, how to have respect for one another and how to protect themselves from emotional and physical hurt.

Here are some more tips:

  1. BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL.Your relationship with your partner is a model for how your teen will behave with others. Your relationship for your child speaks far louder than anyone’s words. Show them how you compromise, stick up for yourself, give and expect respect and argue but love your spouse.
  2. TELL THEM TO LISTEN TO THEIR INNER VOICE. Help them pay attention to the voice inside that says, “I’m uncomfortable in this situation and don’t want to do this.” Teach them to trust their judgment. Tell them how to avoid unwanted sexual advances. Tell your sons that having sex does not make them a man and tell your daughters that having sex does not make them cool. 
  3. WARN THEM ABOUT THE DANGER SIGNS. Being manipulated, verbally put down, pushed or slapped and kept isolated from other relationships are all signs of an abusive relationship. Make sure both your son and daughter understand that, and that they should come to you or another parent/teacher/counselor if they feel at all threatened or oppressed by their boyfriend or girlfriend.
  4. NO, MEANS NO. Tell them they need to be honest and clear in communications. “I’m not sure…” from a girl can mean “I just need to be pushed or pressured some more before I say yes” to her date. Tell girls to say “No” clearly and firmly. Tell boys if they hear “No” then proceeding anyway is rape.
  5. HAVE THE SEX TALK. Make them think seriously about what sexual intimacy really means to them. Tell boys they are not expected to try a million different ways to get sex. Tell girls that they do not need to have sex to keep a guy.

    Tell them that oral sex and anal sex are sex. Many kids are having these forms of sex because they tell themselves it’s not really sex.

    First tell them they shouldn’t be having sex yet. Then tell them about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. You hope they will wait to have sex, but if they don’t, it’s best that they protect themselves.

    Let them talk privately with their doctor so they can get what they need to take care of themselves. Encourage them to come to you with any question or conflict. Try to be open to discussing it, rather than lecturing them. You want them to listen to your opinion, yet at the same time feel they are making up their own mind.

Source: Dr. Gail Saltz

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month as well as Teen Sexual Assault Awareness Week.  It is a perfect time to sit down with your teens and talk to them about dating.  This is one of the first big steps into adulthood, and a parent should be the one discussing these issues and concerns with their teenager.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Read more on Examiner.