This is similar but not identical to When is it safe to start letting our children go into relationships?
My 12-year-old son is precocious in terms of height and puberty, but emotionally he is out of kilter with his physical development, i.e. he is in many ways quite emotionally immature for his age. He has a healthy interest in girls, although he doesn't have much of an idea how to go from fantasy to reality yet. But a female friend of his from school has been calling their play dates "dates." The truth is that when we pick her up and take them to the swimming pool, or whatever, they just yak about stuff, go down the water slide again and again -- to us it looks like a normal play date.
He told me they were "dating", and had the idea I should drive them around, pay for movies and so on, and make myself persona non grata because he thought (realized) people go on "dates" without their parents. So far I've been able to steer through a very narrow navigable channel, but I'd like to establish a dating policy (which I didn't need to do when my other son was this age, because he was slow to mature and a bit socially awkward).
I told him, "It's too soon for 'dating' but 'play dates' are fine; and every day is too often for talking to her on the phone." (He has OCD and tends to want to phone friends compulsively.) But he wants to know when he can 'date' and I don't know what to say. The closest I've been able to come to articulating a dating policy is to laugh a bit and say, If we're driving you guys around, that's a play date, not a date!
What is an effective dating policy for a 12yo boy, in terms of what age he may start, and any constraints he should have for the next few years?