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Funny thing about magazines like Seventeen -- the girls actually reading those glossies are usually closer to, say, 11 or 12. Real 17-year-olds, meanwhile, are already deep into Cosmo territory ... or at least that's the way it was when I was a kid, and that's the way it is for my 12-year-old daughter and her friends. So part of me understands the outrage over a column recently posted by Seventeen's dating blogger about the pros and cons of online dating ... hang on, are we encouraging 12-year-old girls to strike up random romances with creepy dudes on the Internet?! Most of me, however, thinks this is a case of Much Ado About Nothing. First of all, the column didn't exactly advocate online dating (more on that in a minute). But that's not really the issue here.
It all goes back to the thing about Seventeen's target demographic being decidedly younger than 17. Tweens have always been obsessed with magazines (and TV shows and websites, etc.) about older kids living fascinating older kid lives because their own reality is boring -- they want to fantasize about their fabulous futures: What kind of car they'll drive, what color dress they'll wear to the prom, etc. Online dating -- any dating -- falls into the same category: Fantasy.
NOW. I do realize that there are exceptions to this rule, which is horrifying, and makes me want to crawl into a hole and hide there until my daughter is 35, but I can't do that, because I need to be keeping tabs on what she's doing online. Which is what we all need to be doing anyway, so does it matter what a magazine says? Here's what the magazine said, by the way:
Let’s face it: we’re all techoholics! Even though we do basically everything online, I always thought of online dating as something older people do. I was talking to a new friend and she was telling me all about her boyfriend. I admit it, I was a little jealous. He sounded so great and she was so happy in her relationship. When I asked her how they met, she told me she had signed up for Match.com and had met him online right away. Now six months later, they’re engaged!
Sounds more like a promotion for Match.com than anything else (which, it's worth noting, has an 18 and over policy -- how easy it is to get around that rule I don't know, but still).
Do you think the outrage over Seventeen's online dating advice is over the top?