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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.

The majority of teens studied didn’t begin dating until about age 13, and the so-called late bloomers were around 15.Neither of these latter groups appeared to experience any major social or emotional difficulties.It’s worth noting that plenty of teens aren’t just dating, they’re already having sex: A CDC study found that about 43 percent of teenage girls and 42 percent of teenage boys had had sexual intercourse at least once.As tweens become teens and Facebook links replace friendship bracelets, dating ensues, leaving many parents wondering, what’s the best age for teens to begin coupling up?STORY: Should You Make Your Child Stop Sucking His Thumb?

The Great Debate The answer depends on a variety of factors, including personality and maturity level.It’s obvious a lot has changed among teens in recent years.For one, group dating is more popular than ever (not to be confused with double dating, this is when girls and boys hang out en masse, usually at a mall or a restaurant).As a result, fewer boys are actually asking girls out on one-on-one dates.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.These days girls and boys are more likely to ask each other out via text or direct messages on social media.