Many parents said they don't hold overly conservative attitudes to puppy love because they are unwilling to overplay or overemphasize things that are part of the normal process of growing up. However, many said that they are disturbed by the public intimacy.
"It's common to see teenagers feeding each other ice cream or a girl sitting on a boy's lap when waiting for a bus," said a mother of a 14-year-old girl in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, who gave her name as Zhang. "I tell my daughter to avoid physical contact when she's alone with boys."
But sometimes the children's tricks are hard to detect. Many students said their classmates have borrowed identity cards from older kids to go to hotels. ID cards are required as part of the checking in procedure, but most people don't receive them until they are 16.
Wei refused to say if he has been to hotels with his girlfriend, but said his boarding school is near a college district, which has plenty of karaoke bars and hotels. "I believe that's the main reason my parents refused to apply for my ID card in advance," he said.
Zhang Wen, a 15-year-old girl from Shanghai, said many of her schoolmates date girls or boys from other schools to avoid the attention of teachers, and that hotel dates are an open secret among their peers.
"Some girls are excited about going to bed with handsome boys," she said. "They usually stay at economy inns for just a few hours because it's expensive to stay overnight and also family rules mean they have to go home."
"Hotels do not cross-check the photo on the ID card with the holder because they are familiar with teenagers' practices," she added.
A 15-year-old girl in Shanghai, surnamed Guan, said minors are following the rage for hotel dates because they think it's an international practice, something they've learned from US TV series.
"The free and open life in Gossip Girl - a US-based teen drama - seems fancy and we yearn for that," she said. "When we see how open they are, we believe that we behave too conservatively. We should learn from the West," she added.