“These days, we want to be with each other but also elsewhere, connected to wherever else we want to be, because what we value most is control over where we put our attention.”—Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation
This is the second in a two-part series of posts about talking to kids about technology and how doing so can help you build a stronger relationship with your child. The first post focuses on young children, while this post focuses on tweens and teens.
Research on Media Use by Tweens and Teens
With all of the time tweens and teens spend in front of screens, you may find yourself wondering where and how conversation fits into your child’s world. A look at Common Sense Media’s new report: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, illustrates just how much the average tween (8-12) and teen (13-18) spends on screens. On average, American tweens spend 6 hours and teens spend 9 hours using media each day.
It can seem as though the phone, or any other device, is a third person in the room, drawing from the opportunity for us to be present with our children. So, what can a parent do?
Tech and Building a Relationship with Your Tween or Teen
Participate: Shared experiences create and strengthen bonds. You may find your child is eager to teach you something they enjoy. Ask to join that game that your child seems to play for hours on end. As a parent, you can keep abreast of what games they are playing and show that you are interested in something important to them. Conversations will flow from there.
Set Boundaries: Create device-free spaces and times for both children and adults. Meals and car rides are both opportunities for connection. Some of my favorite memories as a child were riding in the minivan with my parents and three siblings. Every family is unique, so find a time that works for you!
Find a Healthy Balance: Use the tips below from Caroline Knorr at Common Sense Media to find a balance with media and technology for your family.
- Be a role model
- Start good habits early
- Use media together
- Keep distractions to a minimum
- Turn off work
Where we place our attention is a way of showing what we value. When engaging with your tween or teen, be intentional and place your full attention on them. Small, meaningful conversations add up to an open space for honest dialogue around media and technology.
Looking for a school for your child?
Lowell School is an independent school in the Colonial Village neighborhood of Washington, DC, that offers Pre-Primary, Primary, and Middle School programs. It offers a rigorous and hands-on curriculum that nurtures each child’s natural curiosity and desire to learn, and supports the development of individual voice and self-reliance. For more information, please call 202-577-2000, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow Lowell on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.