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It is estimated that 10 percent of 18 to 24 year olds are seeking dates online.One of the most popular dating apps, Tinder, is geared toward adults, but admits that 7 percent of it’s users are between the ages of 13 and 17.Other online dating sites, like Skout, have dedicated teens-only sections where teens can interact with others in their peer group—although there is no official age verification.

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Many are looking for actual dates, while some teenagers are merely testing boundaries, or attempting to feel mature by seeking out someone online that is outside their normal peer group.

Whether we like it or not, parents need to realize that our children ARE reaching out digitally, and with online dating becoming a norm for adults, it’s something teens are comfortable with exploring, too.

Expecting our teens to avoid it completely isn’t necessarily realistic, especially once they get older.

To that end, parents need to take a proactive stance about talking to our teens about online dating, but also treat it as a new norm: set rules for online dating just like you would when it comes to regular dating.

Parents need to determine when a child is ready or allowed to date by taking into consideration their maturity and responsibility.

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