Okay I can relate to your story except, before roleplaying, I was 13 and I was having a really hard time in middle school. I was in 7th grade and an episode of The Bing Bang Theory was on and the one scene where Raji and Steward set up dating profiles. And one thing leads to the next I make a profile, and did some things I wasn't supposed too, even set up to, you know, with an order guy, and got into serious trouble. Even had a detective showed up. Then a classmate of mine told me have I ever gone on dating websites. The cycle continued for a few years and I've grown a pretty nasty addiction I really want to get rid of. And that's why I have serve trust issues. Trust me, I learned all of this the hard way!My problem with writing with minors is that a mature sixteen/seventeen year old is still a sixteen/seventeen year old. They're not adults. Can they act like one? Sure, but that doesn't change the fact that they're still kids and are extremely vulnerable to manipulation, pressure, and influence of those older than them. There will always be a subconscious power dynamic that verges on the line of being toxic. I am speaking from first hand experience. Let me tell you a story:
I was about sixteen-ish when I got REALLY into RP. I was "mature" because trauma makes you age quickly, and due to my advanced writing levels at the time, I didn't fit in with the other kids who were roleplaying. I turned to adults, who were more than happy to write with me because I was equal with their writing. They told me "wow, I would have never guessed you were in high school!", fed into the presumption I had that I was capable of handling friendships with adults because I was so "mature" - after all, these guys told me I was all the time! I didn't realize, however, that I was so, so vulnerable to the subtle manipulation that grown adults are capable of. When they crossed boundaries, I turned my head the other way because they clearly knew more about the world than I did. When they demanded me to deal with their problems that were way over my head, I agreed because that must have been what adults do for each other. When they put an uncomfortable amount of pressure and idolization onto me, I didn't think anything of it because they must just really like my writing!
I got into hot waters. I had grown men pressuring me into writing explicit content with them by sneaking it into the RPs, and I was too nervous to tell them to stop because I didn't want to ruin my "mature personality." I had people EXPECTING me to act the exact same way an adult would, which meant that the cheeky behavior or unstable emotions any other teenager would have were unacceptable because it was immature. People in their late twenties and beyond were shoving adult problems onto me, and I didn't know how to help them with it because I was sixteen, seventeen, and they got increasingly upset with me over it. The worst scenario I had was at 17, where I had a grown man get uncomfortably attached to me to the point of jealousy and accusations that I was "flaky" and what not. Literally pages and pages of "hey" "hi" "hey (Username)". They were a mutual, so cutting ties off with them could directly affect my relationships with other friends. I was put on a pedestal, and it was awful. Someone older than me could have probably recognized the guilt tripping and manipulation, but I, as a teenager, could not. I didn't have that life experience yet.
Kids think they can handle RP with adults, but they don't know what comes along with a close friendship with people much older than you. You're not ready for it. We all have that mindset of 'oh, it won't happen to me' - but it will. I guarantee it. I thought the exact same thing. Even if you don't notice it now, if you think everything's fine, you may be like me and only notice how messed up things were years later. I'm 19 now, and sometimes I still feel weird and not able to connect with my friends who are close to their thirties. I can only imagine how awkward it would be for someone like them to RP with someone multiple years younger than me.
Can things be different? Can you have a healthy friendship with an adult that doesn't result in toxic behavior? Yes, but that's the minority. You are always better off being safe than sorry. People who are ill-intentioned have a way of hiding what they're doing until you're emotionally invested in them, and until you're older, you will have a very hard time identifying the red flags before it's too late.