Middle school students who date report using twice as much alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, compared with their classmates without romantic relationships, a new study finds.
Students who date in middle school also have significantly worse study skills, and are four times more likely to drop out of school, compared with their single classmates, Science Daily reports.
Researchers at the University of Georgia studied 624 students over seven years, starting when they were in sixth grade. Each year, the students completed a survey that asked about dating, substance use and other behaviors. The study looked at the students’ high school dropout rates, and annual teacher-rated study skills.
Study author Pamela Orpinas noted in a news release that the study suggests “dating should not be considered a rite of passage in middle school.”
The researchers reported their findings in the Journal of Research on Adolescence.