I STARTED "DATING" in the 7th grade. A few people had started earlier, but the onset of middle school brought with it an increased interest of the opposite gender. But it wasn't really dating. For the most part, "going out with" someone (as was the slang for the time) consisted of holding hands at school, awkwardly trying to make conversation on the phone occasionally, and most importantly, changing your Myspace to "in a relationship". I'm sickened when somebody says "It's not official until it's Facebook Official," but the almighty Facebook status is taken as law within my generation, whether I like it or not.
In high school, things started to change. With more freedom, couples could go out to lunch (if one of their friends had a car), or even go to movies if their parents let them. The parents are the ultimate arbiter in their kids' dating experience. With my parents, they barely let me do anything until high school. I thought this was the cruelest thing ever, since some of my friends practically had chauffeurs as parents. But in the end it didn't really matter because I realized it wasn't all that great to have free reign.
The tipping point where dating goes from immature to mature is when kids start getting cars, and more importantly the ability to drive other people in those cars. Then, high school dating becomes changes to like real dating-dating - you know, lunch/dinner and a movie, or mini-golf or even skydiving.
Moving forward into college, I can't see it changing that much. Of course I won't have a car to drive my princess around in, but maybe I could pay off a strapping young man to give us rickshaw rides for the night. Now I'm glad my parents limited me when I was younger, because there's more important things to do when you're 14 than spend 5 days a week at Skateland "dating".