Tweens

Overview

Did you know...

At this stage, tweens begin to develop logical thinking, reasoning, and judgment, but they still need parental guidance when facing choices about their media use.

Eleven- to thirteen-year-olds are in the initial stages of puberty; as a result, they begin to think differently about school and learning and place greater importance on their friendships. Tweens are becoming more independent while also caring more about how others see them. Your tween will begin to show preferences for different types of media, including those their friends are into. Despite these changes, however, caregivers must remain involved in their child’s activities, know the media their tweens are using, and continue to talk about and monitor their child’s online accounts and devices.

Science Says...

...from streaming to smartphones, media are powerful tools, and how tweens use them affects their health and development
tween on carpet with phone

Ask the Mediatrician

What parents ask most about their tweens
tween with headphones and phone outside

Is technology decreasing kids’ ability to communicate face-to-face?

While in some ways kids are connecting through the technology and media they use, hyper-focus on devices can hinder their development of social skills needed to communicate with others in- person. Teachers and others who work with children have noticed several differences in the way young people communicate now as opposed to a few years ago:

  1. Eye Contact: Used to communicating through a screen, many youth do not look others in the eyes when talking to them.
  2. Body Language: Digitally connected kids can lose their sense of personal space and awareness of where people are physically. They may stand at awkward distances from each other or bump into others while walking and texting.
  3. Focus: Multitasking between devices or between devices and “real life” results in skipping from one input or thought to another, splitting attention between experiences. Less attention is paid to each experience and the richness of each interaction declines.

Although technology plays a role in our inability to communicate one-on-one, it is not the direct cause. Our smartphones, laptops and tablets are tools and, used in healthy and safe ways, can help us communicate and stay connected (or reconnect) to people we love and can help us form new relationships with others all over the world. Technology only distances us when we misuse these tools by allowing them to come between us rather than connecting us.

Ice Breakers

When you see something concerning, here are ways to get the conversation going.

How to talk to your tween

Start conversations when you and your child are in good moods (not feeling angry or hurt) and when you're both open to listening. Be sure to say exactly what you mean, encourage your child to take turns talking and listening, and give them your full attention. Let them know that you love them and that you value what they say.

tween streaming with gaming pc

If you see that...

Your tween is picking up the same distracting media habits you have…

Say this...

“I get frustrated with myself when I become distracted with my phone. It makes me feel like I’m missing out on being with you. Let’s make a house rule to have a time each day where none of us use our phones.”

If you see that...

Your tween has texted something cruel to one of their classmates…

Say this...

“I saw a text that you sent to one of your friends that seemed a little mean to me. I’m not going to take your phone away, but do want to talk about what you sent and how it might make your friend feel.”

If you see that...

Your tween is watching videos from influencers giving diet tips and suggesting weight loss products or supplements to build muscles…

Say this...

“I know there’s a lot of pressure to look like the perfect filtered and cropped images you see posted, and that your body is going through a lot of changes. Remember that most of what you see online isn’t a true view of reality. Let’s talk about how these images make you feel.”