Teenage dating may benefit or harm a student, but sadly the latter is usually true
In a new study published in the Journal of School Health, researchers found that adolescents who were not in a romantic relationship had good social skills and low depression, and fared better or equal to peers who dated.
A prior study identified trajectories of dating from sixth to twelfth grade and describes the academic performance (teacher-rated study skills and high school dropout) and self-reported drug use associated with these trajectories, in a diverse sample randomly selected in sixth grade. Using a group-based, semiparametric procedure, the researchers identified four dating trajectories: low (16%), increasing (24%), high middle school (22%), and frequent (38%).
The earlier study said, students in these latter two groups had significantly worse study skills, were four times more likely to drop out of school, and reported twice as much alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use than students in the low and increasing dating groups. This study highlights the diversity of dating trajectories and some of the risks associated with early dating.
The current study included 594 10th graders. Investigators compared the four dating groups using teacher ratings and student questionnaires.
The results refute the notion that non-daters are maladjusted. Efforts in schools that promote health should include non-dating as one option of healthy development.
“In the end, school health educators, mental health professionals, and teachers should affirm social norms that support adolescents’ individual freedom to decide whether to date or not, indicating that both are acceptable and healthy options,” said lead author Brooke Douglas, of the University of Georgia.
Teenage dating may benefit or harm a student; but sadly, the latter is usually true. Some student couples may encourage each other to study and these are known as healthy relationships. But the amount of time spent dating comes at the expense of their studies. When relationship problems surface, teenagers may not have the emotional maturity to deal with them and may make wrong decisions.
One of the many problems dating teens may face which they may be unable to cope with is that of premarital sex. A recent report in The Straits Times said that teens in Singapore were starting to have sex earlier. The report said that although fewer than 3 per cent of all the babies born to teens had mothers who were aged under 15, social workers said they are noticing that some teens are starting to have sex at a younger age and have multiple sexual partners.