Tag Archive | Teen Dating

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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Digital Dating: ABC’s of Online Dating

Who is your teen meeting and dating?

“Online dating.”

The words themselves have become a kind of catch-all for every good and bad thing about the Internet. The good: instant communication, a wide array of people, and a chance to meet partners that were previously unavailable. The bad: stalkers, weirdos, and people who are trying really hard not to seem like stalkers or weirdos. But as sure as haters gonna hate, it’s possible to also find some really great partners online.

Digital dating services are life-savers for harried professionals or reserved college students.

The key is to know how to navigate the increasingly crazy waters around you.

  • A. Avoid aggressive guys:There are tons of nice people on the Internet, but there are also ripped-up juice-heads who just want to hook up with someone and tell their bros about the conquest. These guys — and the aggressive types on dating sites tend to be guys — are best left alone. They work on their targets with the digital equivalent of heavy flirting, from messages to questions to request for pics, but just let it roll off. There’s nothing to see here.
  • B. Be honest:Your online dating profile is a lot like a job application: you can pad it all you want, but you’re gonna have to put it to the test when the time comes. Don’t say you work out regularly if you use your treadmill as a wardrobe; don’t say you love cats if you’ve got bad allergies. The white lies might seem like a way to present a better version of yourself, but they’re just going to lead to a bad match. Honesty leads to compatibility; fudging leads to awkward dates.
  • C. Control who can see you: It’s 2011; there is now no excuse for not understanding how to use privacy settings online. Different dating sites structure their profiles in special ways, but you can always find a way to configure who can search for you, how much they can learn about you, and what level of online-relationship acceptance they need to clear before they see the whole profile. Don’t just put yourself out there for passersby because it’s a dating site. You need to exercise some caution and intelligence.
  • D. Don’t broadcast details: Similarly, an online profile is just that: a digital version of you. It doesn’t have to be the full thing. You need to be honest, yes, but that doesn’t mean disclosing too many personal details or bits of information that could be used by someone who wants to steal your identity or just embarrass you. The time to share the details of your life is in person with someone you’ve gotten to know and trust.
  • E. Enjoy browsing: Shop around! You’re on a dating site, after all. Half the appeal (at least) is the ability to window-shop for a potential date. There’s no commitment unless you want there to be, and you can take things as slow as you like. Look around before attempting to make connections.
  • F. Fact-check your dates: Say you strike up an online conversation with someone who talks about their company, published work, or some other piece of info that could be verified with a quick Google search. In this day and age, you’re crazy not to check them out. You’ll probably get back legitimate results that back up their story, but there’s always the chance you’ll turn up something disreputable. (Maybe they’re an ex-con, or a Yankees fan.) There’s nothing wrong with a little research.
  • G. Get specific about your interests: Online dating is the ideal time to get real about what you like to do. Do not fill up your profile talking about how much you like the outdoors, or books, or breathing. Everyone likes those things. You’ll come across as generic and bland. Write about specifics: maybe you like to hike national parks, or take roadtrips to ghost towns, or read 19th-century feminist literature. The more detailed you can get about your hobbies, the better your chances at finding someone who likes the same things. (Or, alternately, who doesn’t like any of that stuff, which will save you both some time.)
  • H. Hold your head up high: Even though we live most of our lives online now, some people will probably still mock you for joining an online dating service. These people are probably working through a whole host of feelings, from prejudice to cowardice to genuine curiosity, so their reactions are understandable. But there is no shame at all in using an online service to get a date. In many ways, it’s a whole lot easier than dragging yourself from bar to bar, hoping to luck into something romantic or worthwhile. Online dating lets you set the speed of the game.
  • I. Inquire about the other person’s life: It’s an easy temptation in the era of Facebook and Twitter to hit people with a firehose of information about your life, career, history, goals, first pet’s name, etc. But to really build a relationship with someone (especially online), it’s vital to ask them questions about their own life. Don’t turn every story into an excuse to shift the conversation or email thread back to yourself. Instead, let them open up, and ask them natural follow-up questions. You’ll be amazed how naturally trust can develop.
  • J. Joke about yourself: Only tell people you’re awesome if you’re doing it ironically. The world is full of braggarts and self-involved people who think they’re a total catch, but the truth is that everyone’s got baggage. The best way to stand out from the pack online is to be honest and funny about your shortcomings. Scared of heights? Prone to getting lost? Worried about an asteroid hitting your house? Cop to it. You will, guaranteed, make an impression for being honest and funny, and you’ll feel real where other people come off as flat caricatures.
  • K. Keep at it: Online dating has its conveniences — you can flirt without having to shower — but like its real-world counterpart, it requires a certain level of commitment for a user to see payoff. Getting the most out of online dating means keeping your profile updated, seeing who’s new to the site, exchanging messages, seeing if your interests match with another person’s, and hopefully going on a date, after which you might have to go back to the drawing board. That’s normal. The important thing to remember is that the longer you participate, the better the odds you’ll find a real connection.
  • L. Lighten up: It’s just a date! Seriously, calm down and just have fun. Make jokes in your profile. Include funny pictures. Be honest and self-deprecating. If an online friendship leads to an in-person encounter, don’t freak out; you already know the other person to a degree, so it’s not like a blind date. If you wig out and get nervous, no one’s gonna have a good time.
  • M. Make the first move: Don’t think that creating an online profile and saying you’re open for business is going to have people lining up to meet you. Somebody’s gotta make the first move, so it might as well be you. Online dating sites can be a bit like a middle-school dance: all the boys and girls are there, but everyone’s on opposite sides of the room, too scared to actually dance. This is totally understandable, but also pretty dumb. If you see someone whose profile you like, send them a message. The worst they can do is refuse to answer, at which point a person you’ve never spoken to will simply continue not speaking to you. At best, you can start a new relationship. It’s win-win.
  • N. Never get mean: The Internet is full of trolls. It’s a regrettable but seemingly unavoidable side effect of the fact that the greatest communications device in history is used mainly for porn and coupons. For reasons no one can fathom, they even show up in membership groups like online dating sites. Maybe it’s one of the aforementioned aggressive guys who goes too far; maybe it’s just somebody with no interpersonal skills. If you get hit with a personal attack, don’t respond in kind. Ignore them, delete them, report them for system abuse. Just don’t get down in the mud with them. It won’t end well.
  • O. One thing at a time: You might think that using an online dating site means you can multi-task and date several people at once. But you’re not Zack Morris. If you want to go on a few casual dates in a row with different people, have at it, but if things start to pick up with one relationship, you owe it to the others not to pursue them. At best, it’ll get confusing, and at worst, someone’s gonna get hurt.
  • P. Physical comments get creepy fast: You know when you should compliment someone’s physical appearance? In person, if you get that far, and even then you should still keep it limited to overall remarks like “You look wonderful/amazing tonight.” Seeing someone’s picture on an online profile and sending them a direct message saying “You’re hot” or “You’re so pretty” is not kosher. It’s too much, too fast. You will, guaranteed, freak out whoever you’re trying to impress. Exercise self-control.
  • Q. Quit whenever you’d like: Online dating does require a commitment to see payoff, but the good news is that you’re not required to do more than you want. If the set-up isn’t working for you, or if you’re just not comfortable with getting to know someone via emails or direct messages, feel free to take a break or even walk away. You might decide to start up your membership again later and discover what you really want to get out of it.
  • R. Resist the urge to stalk: It’s not a good idea. Some sites tell you who’s visited your profile and how many times they’ve done it, which means cyber-stalking is going to show up like a red flag on your crush’s account. Even if your particular dating site doesn’t report those stats to members, is that really what you want to do with your time? Soak up pics of someone in hopes of catching a glimpse of skin? Save it for Facebook.
  • S. Set reasonable goals: Sites like eHarmony and Match.com boast about their track record in bringing together people who eventually get married. That’s a possibility, sure, but entering the field of online dating with the goal of finding a spouse is a bit impractical. It’ll only distract you from the chance to connect with someone or to work on yourself. The key to success in online dating is, unsurprisingly, the same as it is for more traditional types: just relax.
  • T. Take a chance: Obviously, you should never do something you’re uncomfortable doing. But online dating is a great way to go outside your comfort zone a bit. Feeling a connection with someone whose politics are different from yours? See where it goes. Starting to click with someone who lives far away? Don’t rule out a long-distance relationship to start. The bottom line is that you can easily limit yourself so much that you never get anywhere. Instead of that, try seeing what’s out there that you haven’t explored.
  • Use real words: Just because you’re meeting someone online doesn’t mean you have to write like a barely literate middle-schooler. When it comes time to send that first message, avoid clunky abbreviations like “u r,” “wat,” and other pointless contractions. You’re a functioning adult; write like it. Besides, you’re not in a hurry. You have no need to shave nanoseconds from your day by writing “wat r u up 2?” when you could formulate a coherent sentence.
  • V. Vary your approach: If you’re not getting any responses to your online flirting — or worse, if you’re getting weird or angry responses — it could be time to change your game. Nobody responding to your jokes? Take a hard look and see if they’re actually funny or just offensive (or nonsensical). Coming across as weak? Dial down the sensitive guy shtick and act normal. Worried about being perceived as ditzy? Cut out the nervous laughs or deferrals. Dating online is a great way to refine your public persona and figure out what you’re looking to achieve.
  • W. Watch out for scams: Legit online dating services are out to make a profit, but they want to do it by helping you. Satisfied customers create good word-of-mouth. Major sites like Match.com or eHarmony are good bets, but if you find a lesser-known site that asks for your credit card info, do some research before signing up. (Even then, see if there’s a free trial available.) Identity theft is a high price to pay for a date.
  • X. Xenophobia will come back to bite you: Don’t be scared of someone who doesn’t fit the mental image you’ve got as the ideal mate or “type.” Online dating is a great way to get to know who someone really is, past the exterior hang-ups that often keep us from looking outside a specific racial and physical template. Use this as an opportunity to let yourself see things in a new way, and to stop fearing things that are different.
  • Y. Yearn for the right partner: There’s a temptation in online communities to be too cool for the room. This is suicide in online dating. Yes, you don’t want to rush things or scare someone off, but if you’re just cruising the scene, you’re going to get disappointed, fast. It’s OK to unironically want to be with someone, and with a specific kind of someone. If that’s scared you off the bar and club scene, know that the online dating world is more welcoming. It goes back to honesty: directness always gets you farther than sarcasm.
  • Z. Zero in on your ideal relationship: For all its technological differences, online dating is just like the original version: it’s all about finding out what kind of person is right for you, and what kind of person you want to be. You’ll get the most out of a dating site if you really commit to using it in the right way, meaning you let your experiences shape your personality to the point where you know who you’re looking for and why. Even if you don’t find them online — or even if it takes longer than you’d imagined — it’ll be worth it in the end.

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.

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.