At some point in her tween years, your child will feel an almost irresistible force tugging at her: technology. From texting to Facebook to Twitter, she’ll yearn to join the universe her peers are moving in so quickly. Once engaged, she’ll likely know more about it than you do, pick it up faster, and tell you bluntly that she doesn’t want you there.
Tweens love technology for all those reasons. It’s their way of finding a private space in a world in which they’re generally denied privacy. You may view it as a disaster zone, with spelling and conversational skills disappearing. For them, though, it’s a blessed release from tough school standards and a special way to connect with their friends.
Keeping the Balance
You may worry about the dangers of sexual predators or cyberbullies or feel that your tween is hatching plots with all that coded language. But high-tech communication is a fact of life, and if you help your tween keep a sensible balance, there’s little chance of harm. Try these ideas for setting ground rules:
- Agree on limits. Normal family life and conversation should take priority, and there should be plenty of time made for fun face-to-face friendship.
- Keep talking, playing, and discussing. Your tween’s social skills won’t take a tumble if you keep up regular family conversation and fun outings.
- Don’t allow your tween to disappear to a bedroom for hours. She may seem to want her friends more and you less, but she still needs plenty of your time and attention and to have you around when she wants to talk.
- Accept that tweens argue more. Learning to manage conflict and difference through discussion is another benefit of keeping family talk active.
Online talk may be a sign of the times, but there’s no substitute for real conversation to learn the empathy that keeps families and relationships thriving.