Why It’s Okay For This 10-Year-Old To Make A Dating Profile

Young student with workbook

A mom in Pennsylvania is super pissed that her 10-year-old daughter was assigned to create a dating profile in her middle school English class. Sherry Lindsay, whose daughter goes to Mosside Middle School in the Gateway School District, told WXPI that she was appalled when she discovered her daughter had written a dating profile for an assignment:

“There is no reason why a child with today’s day and age of kids being abducted and kids being missing that should be given a profile to a dating service at 10.  This is not something they should even be discussing at 10.”

So, at first, when I read the headline for this story “Mom outraged over assignment with option to create dating profile for 10-year-old,” I was all “OMG! Violation! Wrongdoing! A ten-year-old shouldn’t be writing a dating profile in SCHOOL.” But when I read the article, I realized that it was a dating profile…for a character in the book Tuck Everlasting. (Do you remember the Tuck Everlasting movie with Alexis Bledel and Jonathan Jackson? Because it’s good. And Jonathan Jackson is hot in it, and not nearly as rude/pissy/pathetic as he is on Nashville). Anyway, it’s not like this little girl is being made to think about herself in sexualized or romantic terms for an assignment. It’s to think critically about a character in a book. Also, the dating profile was only one of six options for the character analysis assignment, so presumably this little girl chose that particular option herself.

Now, I can see why a mom would be upset that her child has to create a dating profile. But I also think it’s a pretty creative assignment. Inappropriate for middle-schoolers? Eh, maybe. I mean, I’m not sure how a middle-schooler even has enough exposure to dating or dating profiles to even know what is on a dating profile, or how to create one. Has Match.com really permeated that far into our cultural imagination that children know how to craft a profile?

This kind of assignment might fly better in a high school or even college classroom. But I still think this mom’s righteous outrage is a little outsize for the situation. To be honest, I’d be happy that I had a kid who picked an assignment that showed off her creativity, rather than raising a stink about appropriateness. Regardless, the school district involved said they understand the mom’s concerns and will remove this option from the lesson.

What do you think? Was this assignment totally inappropriate or does this mom have her panties in a bunch about something trivial?

Photo: Flickr user Ingo Bernhardt

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    • http://sarahhollowell.com/ Sarah Hollowell

      At 10, I would have thought that was a lot of fun. I wasn’t really into boys at the time, but I liked romance, and ohmygod Tuck Everlasting ohmygod. While 10-year-olds might not have actual experience with dating profiles, they’d probably get the gist of it or have been exposed to jokes/parodies of them.

      If it was a dating profile about herself, yeah, that would be weird and inappropriate. But for a character in a book? Dude, I would have loooved that.

      (Also why is a 10-year-old in middle school? That was more like 4th grade for me. Maybe 5th. I mean, I know some middle schools are 6th, 7th, and 8th instead of just 7th and 8th like they are where I live, but 10 seems young for middle school.)

      • Anne Marie Hawkins

        Moss Side’s website says they’re a 5-6 middle school, so she’s probably in the fifth grade. But I agree, this is an ingenious approach to getting kids to think critically about characterization – in order to complete the assignment, they’d have to really read the text for character details, and doing it correctly would demonstrate real reading comprehension. Plus all the 10-year-olds I know (through volunteer work with Destination Imagination) are desperate to be allowed on social media, so any assignments that involve writing up fictional online profiles (I hear about a lot of fictional Facebooks) are met eagerly.

    • Amber Dawn

      I think it’s completely appropriate and fine. If it was for herself, then yeah, obviously messed up. But for a fictional character – clever. It’s not like 10 year olds don’t know what dating and the internet is. I was barely older than that when my best friend and I were talking to all kinds of people on AOL instant messenger, and that was in the mid-late 90s, before the internet was totally ubiquitous.