How Young Is Too Young For Beer, Cell Phones and Piercings?

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Research Reveals: Teens

four teen girls

What age is the right age to let kids have things like cell phones and see R-rated movies? Credit: Getty Images

Have a beer with Mom or Dad? No way! How about an after-school part-time job? Sure, no problem! So says a new ABC News/Good Morning America Weekend poll that looked at parental constraints on teens' activities.

The poll, part of an upcoming "Good Morning America" series "How Young is Too Young?", examined parental attitudes about activities as wide-ranging as the proper age for piercing a girl's ears (that would be 9) to using social media. The results show that Mom and Dad keep a close eye on their teens and also exercise some significant parental control.

Of the parents polled, most define 15 as the age at which childhood ends and young adulthood begins, but a significant portion (one-third) say kids are kids until they turn 17 -- and those parents tend to be more restrictive.

So just what gets parents' knickers in a twist? Credit cards for teens, attending unsupervised parties and girls who stay out past 11 p.m., all of which were deemed inappropriate for kids under the age of 17.

The biggest no-nos, according to parents, are having a glass of beer or wine at a family event or meal (76 percent rule it out), and 71 percent say they would never give their kids a credit card. Nearly as many -- 69 percent -- say it is never OK to let a minor attend a party that is unsupervised by adults.

Other forbidden activities include: unsupervised dating (54 percent say no for their girls, and 49 percent for their sons); social networking accounts (43 percent rule them out), unsupervised Internet use (37 percent say no) and 36 percent say it is never acceptable for a minor to see an R-rated movie, even with a parent.

The poll also looked at when and if parents would initiate a conversation with their kids about two hot-button issues: money and sex. Twenty-six percent of parents say they would not discuss the family finances with their children, but when it comes to sex, they are significantly more open. Only 5 percent rule out the old birds-and-bees talk, and most agree that talking about sex should begin at age 13 for a boy and 12 for a girl.

What ranks low on the scale of parental concerns? Girls getting their ears pierced (only 10 percent forbid it) and having a cell phone (11 percent nix that idea). Other acceptable activities for teens include walking or biking around their neighborhoods alone and having a part-time job.

The most permissive parents polled tended to be white, affluent and well-educated. On the flip side, parents who identified themselves as having strong religious faith tended to be more restrictive. Moms and dads are about equal when it comes to limiting kids' activities.

Related: Are Teens Too Young to Tan?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.