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Online Dating for Middle Schoolers?

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While online dating and matchmaking is cool for single moms, it is NOT OK for the tween set.

Young girl using computer

Dr. Wendy Walsh: A school district in Elwood, Ind., is under fire this week for an annual fundraiser that matches students with compatible mates. The fundraiser, which the school superintendent, Thomas Austin, says is "innocent," works like this: Students pay a few bucks to fill out a personality survey, and a computer provides compatible matches of the opposite sex -- from grades six through ten! The more money students pay, the more matches will be provided. Proceeds go to the drama club -- but this year, the fundraiser itself is causing more drama.

This kind of activity is inappropriate for a number of reasons. Already, American parents have been complaining that our culture is sexualizing our children way too early, and this kind of matchmaking fosters coupling up. Add to that the fact that there is a wide age-range of participants: An 11-year-old girl could potentially be matched with a 16-year-old boy, making her prone to sex pressure. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. 

But despite that, Austin apparently calls the survey "a harmless, noninvasive fundraiser" that "they've been doing for the past 15 years."

"I approved this fundraiser on February 1st," he's quoted as saying, "and I knew about the content of the survey and it's just a good way for kids to have a little fun. It's a voluntary survey."

Austin also claims he hasn't gotten any complaints from parents. Maybe the reason for that is because the fundraiser does not come with a parental-consent form -- so most parents don't even know it's going on. Yikes!

momlogic readers, what do YOU think about this?

next: Mom's Antidepressants May Delay Baby's First Steps
33 comments so far | Post a comment now
Black Iris February 22, 2010, 1:46 PM

What an awful idea!

I can just imagine the mean things high school kids would say as they fill out the forms. What if you were rejected by your computer-matched date?

And 11 year olds just shouldn’t be dating.

jeanne February 22, 2010, 2:10 PM

This is just plain creepy!

Trinidad February 22, 2010, 2:36 PM

OMG what dummy thought this one up?!?!?!?! smh :-?

Lula Lola February 22, 2010, 2:42 PM

The rejection issues bother me as much as anything else. How sad would it be if someone turned their nose up at getting your child on their list? That’s got to do a number on their self esteem!

Kal L. February 22, 2010, 2:42 PM

I think it’s a good idea. Dating effectiveness can be a great platform for parents to talk to children about safe sex practices and even…dare I say it…encourage abstinence.

Whatever gets kids talking with adults and help them learn about themselves, their bodies, and what boys and girls say or do to get what they want.

Dating like sex shouldn’t be something that catches parent s”off-guard”. Parents have a choice to engage children and this idea does so from a communal vantage point.

I would however limit the age group to grade level only so that there isn’t a Vygotsky “big head theory” going on that would create inappropriate social pressure.

I think it’s a good idea…and what are the statistics of men and women in arranged marriages in America divorce rates? 3%.

It isn’t old school arrange marriages that I am promoting but that parents and teachers can talk and be engaged with how teens dating habits develop - every step of the way.

Don’t get surprised with a pregnant teen or a boy with an STD. I think this idea would have a lot of teens going, “ know what, I can wait until I’m older.” Instead of being over-fascinated with what happens in the dark.

Anonymous February 22, 2010, 3:26 PM

We did this fundraiser at my high school, and I think that it was harmless. It was just used as a laugh. No one really took these “matches” seriously.

aFreshmanGirl February 22, 2010, 3:35 PM

Soo last year we did these as a fundraiser for Vday at my highschool. NO one takes it seriously, ever. The fact that people are flipping out about this is completely ridiculous. I got all people that i would never dream of going out with, except for one - and he got me and now we’ve been going out for a year.

Anon February 22, 2010, 3:38 PM

They left out one factor, at least at my school you need parents approval to do this.

Jenn February 22, 2010, 3:39 PM

This happened in my junior high (6 years ago), and NOBODY took it as seriously as this article is making it seem. It was just a fun way to see who you were similar with, although in our survey you could opt for “compatibility” with boys or girls (regardless of your own gender), because we considered it seeing who we would be good FRIENDS with, not who we wanted to sleep with or something stupid. Also, most of us didn’t even talk to the people who were similar to us, so we just ended up giggling about it to our friends.
I don’t know, I thought it was fun, and in my school it didn’t lead to “sexualization” of 12 year olds.

TMR February 22, 2010, 3:42 PM

We had this in Jr. High, also. It was just something interesting to think about. People didn’t say- OMG—now I’ve got to go date that guy, or whatever. For the most part, if you were insecure or whatever you just might not pay to participate. I was not popular, and it didn’t bother me. I participated and no one put me down for that.

lorie February 22, 2010, 3:44 PM

my old high school and middle school does this, everyone just laughs about it and compares answers to friends, sometimes we would even make ridiculous answers just to see who we get paired up with. it’s just something fun to do

Moji February 22, 2010, 3:44 PM

Yes, my high school also did these when I was a student some 5 or 6 years ago. It’s totally harmless. It’s just a joke. You just laughed at who they put on your list, and you often go up to them and say some joke about being matched up, but nothing ever comes of it. This is not “online dating” by any stretch.
On paper, the complaints of this site are sound, but the reality is not always the same as we imagine it.

Tori February 22, 2010, 3:47 PM

We do this at my high school, too. Nobody takes it seriously since it asks questions like:

How many songs do you have on your MP3 player?
a. Less than 1,000
b. 1,000
c. They call me DJ

Not exactly a ‘find your soul mate’ type of deal.

Anonymous February 22, 2010, 3:50 PM

We have this fundraiser at my high school. People are over-thinking this, no one takes the matches seriously. Its just something to laugh over :P

Lisa R. February 22, 2010, 3:53 PM

OMG! MULTIPLE schools around the country are doing this? Faculty thinks this is a good idea? The kids enjoy it? The parents don’t object? I’m floored! At my daughter’s middle school dance the kids could get “married.” They got cheap gold “wedding bands” and a “marriage certificate.” I thought that was stupid & inappropriate. But this is an all-new low for schools. The teachers/principal/counselors at my kid’s school are not supposed to encourage her to date at any age. They have no idea what our family values are. That is MY job. I do NOT need the school faculty to help me parent my children. Unbelievable.

Ross February 22, 2010, 4:06 PM

Reality check people, I had my first ‘girl friend’ before I even went to school and that was how I learnt to maintain relationships with the opposite gender and I seriously doubt any teacher is going to match an 11 year old with a 16 year old, that’s the sort of thing that’s easy to program into a computer dating program. While it’s bad to sexualize kids, it is important remember that they need teaching about relationships and their emotional complications as well as the freedom to experiment and make mistakes they can learn from, other wise how are they ever going to maintain a healthy one as a full grown adult. Maybe it’s the fact that adults always equate relationships to sex that lays the groundwork for sexulizing kids’ teaching them that if they have feeling for some one, then they should be having sex with them.

Rose February 22, 2010, 7:08 PM

We did this at our high school (about 10 years ago) and it was all in fun- no one took it seriously and it was voluntary to participate. But the youngest participants were 14 and they only matched you with others in your grade.

Angel February 23, 2010, 3:33 AM

Wow. I would have to say that I as a parent would like to know about this practice. I think as a parent we could be notified of questions and how the whole thing works.I could see how this could spiral into dangerous territory with children and self esteem issues. On the other hand it could also lend to friendships the children may never have thought about, opening the door to seeing others outside of the “cliques” that tend to begin about those ages.

Mindy February 23, 2010, 5:43 AM

At first when I read this article I thought,WOW! WHAT NERVE DOES THIS SCHOOL HAVE! But after I read the comments that were posted, I guess I could see where this kind of activity wouldn’t hurt anybody. I think that parents should have been notified and a permission form sent home. If the kids were “paired” up based on their age or grade I don’t think it would have caused such an uproar. As long as the kids understood that this is to raise money, then I don’t see anything wrong with it.

Jill February 23, 2010, 6:24 AM

Umm….I can recall doing the exact same fund rasier in my middle school, 15 years ago! It’s innocent fun, nobody had sex because of it. Back then there was no internet, online dating was not heard of… AND this fund raiser IS still not internet dating. It’s just FUN.

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