Should adults care who 13-year-old Millie Bobby Brown is dating?

Millie Bobby Brown may be dating 15-year-old singer Jacob Sartorius, according to gossip and the fans who keep their eyes trained on both young celebs’ social media accounts. They’ve engaged in such serious relationship-defining acts as posting photos on Instagram stories (Brown) and commenting with a heart emoji on an Instagram thanking someone for a stuffed bear (Sartorius). Whether or not this is really young love, the stories are bound to cause some hand-wringing. It’s one thing for other teens and tweens to comment on the 13-year-old Stranger Things star’s dating life, but is it appropriate for adults to do so?

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

It is, of course, inevitable that people will talk. She’s a star of a show that appeals to both adults and teens, she’s become a red carpet regular, and she’s active on Instagram and Twitter.

“Since she’s a public figure and she’s out there posting photos, people will speculate,” says adolescent, child, and family psychologist Barbara Greenberg.

In an ideal world, the adult conversations about Brown’s dating life wouldn’t just judge who she’s with, but rather use her public status as a good teaching moment for other kids.

A post shared by Millie Bobby Brown (@milliebobbybrown) on Jan 12, 2018 at 5:25pm PST

“I would really hope that parents and adults that don’t have kids would use these media stories as a way to talk to teens in their life about dating,” Greenberg told Yahoo Lifestyle.

In the case of Brown, she might be an example of a healthy relationship. Sartorius accompanied Brown and her family to Disney World over the holidays, according to Us Weekly, so her parents clearly approve.

“It seems like this young man is age-appropriate,” Greenberg says. “From what I’ve seen, their comments back and forth seem to be kind and affectionate.”

All this brings back the debate people have had in the past about whether young stars like Brown grow up too fast in the public eye. When she gets made up in fancy dresses for awards shows or poses for fashion shoots, some worry about her being oversexualized by the media.

According to Greenberg, being famous and fashion-conscious isn’t inherently harmful to a young girl. What would be damaging is if people don’t speak about her as a whole person who is more than just a pretty face.

“When we simply focus on a young woman’s appearance, we lead our girls down the rabbit hole of depression and eating disorders,” Greenberg says.

So, everyone, get back to discussing those sweet, complex father-daughter scenes between Brown and David Harbour, that new Sherlock Holmes movie series she’ll star in, and what she has to say about ending bullying. Then she’ll be just fine.

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