Sex, drugs and dating make teens feel older

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Teens, Sex, Drugs and Dating

A Canadian study has confirmed what parents have long suspected: dating, sexual activity and substance use seem to make teens feel older than they really are. And, as adolescents get older, the gap between their chronological age and their self-perceived age widens.

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Researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, with assistance from the University of Victoria, surveyed a random sample of nearly 700 adolescents from a medium-sized North American city and asked them questions about dating, sexual experience, smoking, alcohol and drug use. The participants, males and females between 12 to 19 years of age, were also asked how old they felt compared to their same-sex peers. Survey results indicated that, as is typical for teens, the sample felt older than their chronological age.

Kelly Arbeau, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Alberta and co-author of the study, explained that she and her fellow researchers set out to find what

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