, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 821-830
Date: 28 Dec 2006

Biological, Familial, and Peer Influences on Dating in Early Adolescence

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The current study examined the joint contributions of pubertal maturation, parental monitoring, involvement in older peer groups, peer dating, and peer delinquency on dating in a sample of early adolescent boys and girls. The sample consisted of 784 adolescents (394 boys, 390 girls) enrolled in grades 5, 6, and 7 who were followed for one year. In addition to measures of pubertal maturation and parental monitoring, adolescents and their peer group members completed indices of dating and delinquency. Average dating and delinquency scores for each participant’s peer group network were computed. Results indicated that it was the combination of pubertal maturation, peer delinquency, and peer dating that explained increases in early dating. For boys only, parental monitoring was a significant predictor. The more knowledgeable parents were about their boys’ activities, the lower the number of dating activities reported. These results highlight the importance of considering the joint effects of these biological and social predictors in understanding early dating. When rapid changes occur in all three domains, early dating is most likely to ensue. The findings of this study have practical importance. Parents and professionals who work closely with youth should attend to the special vulnerability of early maturing adolescents in the face of peer pressure and to the important role of parental monitoring in regulating dating activities.