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For Ron Eagar, a pediatrician at Denver Health Medical Center, the magic number is 16.“There’s an enormous difference between a fourteen- or fifteen-year-old and a sixteen- or seventeen-year-old in terms of life experience,” he told Healthy Children.org, the website for the AAP.“Sixteen — and even a bit older — is a good age for dating, provided that the teen is mature,” Leslie Beth Wish, a psychologist and clinical social worker, told She Knows.But while the culture of teen dating has evolved, has the age at which it starts changed, and when exactly is the best time? The Great Debate There’s a stark difference between early daters and those who wait until they’re old enough for a learner’s permit.What the research says On average, kids begin group dating at 12-and-a-half for girls and 13-and-a-half for boys, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Boys and girls who start dating between the ages of 11-and-a-half and 13 may experience more academic and behavioral problems than their peers, according to a study published in the Journal of Adolescence.Their lack of maturity leaves them ill-prepared to handle some of the common emotions and issues that couples face, and without many peers going through similar experiences, they’re left to figure things out for themselves.Researchers also cited an increase in the risk of unsafe sex, alcohol use, and more, according to the Wall Street Journal.All but gone are the days when an invite to a movie came by way of a phone call or a shy, in-person meeting.
“It is a very important relationship to teenagers, and it’s important for another reason, in that it is their first intimate relationship with someone outside their family.”Some experts warn against waiting too long to allow kids to date.This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness.