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This “Promposal” Thing is Getting Out of Hand

March 18th, 2016     By Boys Town Contributor

dating, Parent-Child Relationships, Prom, social media, Teens

Remember when prom was just a dance? Sure, it was an important school activity and it was a big deal to muster up the courage to ask someone to be your date. Maybe you didn’t ask anyone and went stag or with a group of friends. Or maybe you just didn’t go at all. Regardless, it was still just a dance.

These days, getting asked to the prom has become the social media event of the season, with outlandish “promposal” videos popping up on YouTube, each one trying to outdo the others. These videos range from the relatively harmless (simply asking someone to the dance via video) to the criminal (referencing drugs and/or alcohol) to the downright bizarre (getting a local cop to pull over a girlfriend and give her a ticket with a prom invite on the back). The more “likes” the promposal has on Facebook or Instagram and the more views it has on YouTube, the better.

As a parent, you may be tempted to dismiss these videos simply as teenage hijinks that have been upgraded for the digital age. But you should consider the fact that prom already carries a certain amount of peer pressure. This can include the pressure to drink alcohol, use drugs, or even engage in sexual activities. When you add in the social media pressure of a “promposal,” it can turn what should be a dream evening into a nightmare for everyone involved.

The pressure is there for both for the proposers and those receiving the proposals. The proposer is under pressure to create the most over-the-top video possible. This can mean spending hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to get noticed and reel in the “likes.” It also can mean engaging in dangerous or illegal activity such as unsafe stunts or using drugs or alcohol.

For the person receiving the proposal, the pressure comes from an expectation to say “Yes.” While this is a difficult enough decision with a standard over-the-phone or text proposal, it is magnified even more when the invite is a very public “promposal” video. Imagine a girl being asked to prom in a video where a boy parachutes into the frame holding a sign saying, “Melissa, will you go to prom with me?” If she says “Yes,” she may end giving everyone in the school the wrong idea about her relationship with the boy, setting up false expectations. If she says “No,” the boy’s humiliation from being rejected as a prom date is compounded by his embarrassment at having spent a wad of cash on a prom ask that failed.

As a parent, you need to be aware of these situations, discuss with your teen the safe, appropriate way to ask for or accept a date, and discourage anything that’s out of bounds.

Unfortunately, promposals aren’t going to go away soon. So if your teen still wants to make one, why can you do?

The most important thing is to be engaged enough with your teen that you can suggest staying away from the expensive or dangerous approach and instead go for clever or sweet. Discuss how a promposal video can be an opportunity for your son or daughter to showcase his or her creativity, and offer to help. It’s a great way to share quality time together while helping your teen avoid dangerous and/or costly missteps.

After all, prom is still just a dance, right?

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