Only a decade ago, it was the rare parent who considered giving a child a cell phone. Fast forward to 2015, and it’s the rare tween or teen who doesn’t have a mobile communication device at their fingertips. Recent surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center and the National Consumer League found that 78 per cent of kids ages 12 to 17 own a cell phone. A staggering 37 per cent in this age group own smartphones with Web access, texting, video and data storage capabilities. And 60 per cent of children age eight to 12 now own cell phones, with most kids getting their first phone at age 10 or 11.
With the new school year in full swing, curious minds have settled into their classroom, routines have been established and the social dynamic has started to take on a personality of its own. New friendships begin to flourish, while old friendships begin to wilt. Sometimes Besties get split up into different classes and feelings of jealousy, isolation or exclusion start to emerge. Girls sometimes mourn past friendships and yearn for ‘the way things used to be.’
Psychologist G. Stanley Hall famously described the teenage years as a “storm.” But the teen tempest is foreshadowed by some early storm warnings during the tween years: unsettling new behaviors like blatant eye-rolling, public back-talk and peer worship. These wearing attitudes darken the horizon like threatening clouds during early adolescence - and make parents want to run for cover.
If you are parenting a tween, you are probably aware how easily the kids are suddenly just too busy even for you. They are likely spending significantly more time with their peers. While they may be less dependent than the elementary school days, it is an important season of parenting to be intentional in ways to connect with them.
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