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Teenagers are still developing their abilities to delay gratification and control their impulses. Should apps like Grindr be held accountable when minors use them? Elizabeth Englander, a psychologist and expert on the digital lives of minors, thinks yes: But it could certainly do more to try to verify ages. Some gambling sites, for instance, make users upload a credit card or ID to prove their age.

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Grindr could also use algorithms to detect conversations between minors and adults. Age verification through social media is hardly foolproof, since minors can lie about their age on Facebook, too. In , a man who had been arrested for having sex with a year-old boy sued Grindr , claiming that its weak enforcement of age restrictions was to blame for the sexual encounter. And Grindr is hardly the only problem — there are many similar venues. Two minutes after I opened a gay chat room, a user wrote: In the end, it is largely up to parents to protect their children.

Parents can block apps like Grindr. Englander tells parents not to try to be experts on the technology. Children need to hear that naked photos and videos are permanent even when sent on Snapchat. They should know that sex between a minor and an adult is illegal. They need to know the risk of infections from unprotected sex.

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As a society, we have failed to create enough spaces for gay youth to thrive, pushing them online and underground. But these experiences, by themselves, do not necessarily mean that a teen is gay or straight. For many teens, these experiences are simply part of the process of sorting through their emerging sexuality.

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And despite gender stereotypes, masculine and feminine traits do not necessarily predict whether someone is straight or gay. Once aware, some gay teens may be quite comfortable and accept their sexuality, while others might find it confusing or difficult to accept. Like their straight peers, gay teens may stress about school, grades, college, sports, activities, friends, and fitting in. But in addition, gay and lesbian teens often deal with an extra layer of stress — like whether they have to hide who they are, whether they will be harassed about being gay, or whether they will face stereotypes or judgments if they are honest about who they are.

They often feel different from their friends when the heterosexual people around them start talking about romantic feelings, dating, and sex. For them, it can feel like everyone is expected to be straight. They may feel like they have to pretend to feel things that they don't in order to fit in. They might feel they need to deny who they are or hide an important part of themselves.

Many gay teens worry about whether they will be accepted or rejected by their loved ones, or whether people will feel upset, angry, or disappointed in them. These fears of prejudice, discrimination, rejection, or violence, can lead some teens who aren't straight to keep their sexual orientation secret, even from friends and family who might be supportive.

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It can take time for gay teens to process how they feel and to accept this aspect of their own identity before they reveal their sexual orientation to others. Many decide to tell a few accepting, supportive friends and family members about their sexual orientation. This is called coming out. For most people, coming out takes courage.

In some situations, teens who are openly gay may risk facing more harassment than those who haven't revealed their sexual orientation.

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But many lesbian, gay, and bisexual teens who come out to their friends and families are fully accepted by them and their communities. They feel comfortable and secure about being attracted to people of the same gender.

In a recent survey, teens who had come out reported feeling happier and less stressed than those who hadn't. Adolescence is a time of transition not just for teens, but for their parents too. Many parents face their teen's emerging sexuality with a mix of confusion and worry.

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They may feel completely unprepared for this next stage of parenthood. And if their child is gay, it may bring a whole new set of questions and concerns. Some are surprised to learn the truth, always having thought their child was straight.

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Others wonder whether the news is really true and whether their teen is sure. They might wonder if they did something to cause their child to be gay — but they shouldn't. There is no evidence that being gay is the result of the way that someone was raised.

Fortunately, many parents of gay teens understand and are accepting right from the start. They feel they have known all along, even before their teen came out to them. They often feel glad that their child chose to confide in them, and are proud of their child for having the courage to tell them. Other parents feel upset, disappointed, or unable to accept their teen's sexual orientation at first.