Screens often get a bad rap when it comes to tweens and teens. I can’t say that it’s not warranted, either. When my daughter gets the opportunity to use my cell phone, or get on her tablet, she can go into a trance. I can call her name over and over and it’s like she doesn’t hear me.
Over the years, though, I’ve learned how to manage screen time and make it work for her. Not only does she get to have fun on her devices, but I use them to teach and engage her.
Screen time does not have to cause arguments. It doesn’t have to turn your tween into a zombie. You can use screens to introduce your child to new things, express their creativity, or learn to be better citizens.
Engaging your tween with screens
If you’re the parent of a tween, you know that one of the most important things for us to do to aid in their development is communication.
Obviously sitting down and talking to them is the preferred way to communicate. You might find as your tween gets older and is trying to find their voice that they’re not as comfortable being open with you in person.
That’s where screens come in! Here are some easy ways to engage your tween in meaningful interactions using screens.
1. Start a shared Google Doc as a digital journal where you can share thoughts back and forth with each other.
2. Text her jokes, affirmations, and inspiring messages. Don’t be surprised when she starts to return the love!
3. Take an online class together. It doesn’t have to be academic, either! How fun would it be to take a dance class with your tween in your living room!
4. Schedule a regular movie date night with her.
5. Download apps she loves like TikTok and create dances with her.
6. Start a vlog that documents your life together. Try using the 1 Second Everyday app to help you make one easily!
7. Upload, label, and organize family pictures to a photo site like Amazon Photos. Talk about each picture as you work through the task.
8. Use Marco Polo to send video messages to each other throughout the day.
9. Work through devotionals together on the YouVersion Bible app. There’s a place at the end of each days lesson for you to share reflections with each other.
10. Play video games together. A little competition is a lot of fun!
Teaching your tween with screens
Once you have the communication part down, consider how you can use screens to teach your tween. Even if they go to the best school and have an amazing teacher, there are still plenty of things you can be, and should be, teaching them.
Using screens is an easy way to engage your tween in new activities and teach them about difficult subjects in a way that is interesting and keeps their attention.
11. Use the Goodreads app and track who reads the most books.
12. Learn a new language using Duolingo or another language app.
13. Watch YouTube videos on cooking and then practice making those recipes at home.
14. Give your tween a topic to research that is relevant to your household (i.e. planning a vacation, figuring out a meal plan) and have them share what they discovered.
15. Let your tween choose a class to take on Outschool. There are a ton of fun choices over there.
16. Encourage her to learn video editing. Let her know it will help her to step her social media game up, too!
17. Follow educators on YouTube to learn a new skill. We really like the folks who share tips on being better writers and technical stuff like making movies!
18. Start an online business! An easy one to start is to make a blog and learn how to make money with affiliate links.
More learning resources
Looking for more tween activities? Michelle at Divas With A Purpose has a whole page that will be filled with resources from amazing parent writers. Bookmark the page and keep checking back for more cool activities!