This guest post is by Melanie Hempe, RN, founder of Families Managing Media.
I really love middle school kids. I have two of them! If you have been through middle-school parenting, you may have noticed what I see: Strange things seem to happen to a tween’s brain the first day they walk into middle school.
One might sum up their main goals in life this way:
As the parent, you are changing, too, as you enter the stage of parenting when you quickly depart from the naïve platform of “My child would never…” to the realization that, “I’m sure my child did that. I’m sorry, and please excuse his behavior, he is going through a phase.”
Your list of daily parenting instruction may include statements like:
Then it happens: Maybe because we are exhausted from their constant begging for a phone, or because we think that all their friends have one, or because we want to upgrade ours to the latest model…we cave. We act on impulse. Our brain seems to regress like theirs, and we give them our old smartphone.
And with that one little decision comes the world of social media access—something we haven’t thought about and something none of us is prepared for. Because the midbrain is reorganizing itself and risk-taking is high and impulse control is low, I can’t imagine a worse time in a child’s life to have access to social media than middle school. Here are just a few reasons why:
How Can Kids Slow Down?
First, we need to slow down and rethink what we are allowing our kids to do. We need to understand the world of social media and how teens use it differently from adults. Here are a few tips that work well for many parents.
Don’t give that smartphone all the power in your home; help tweens choose healthier forms of entertainment. They have the rest of their life to be entertained by social media, but only a limited time with you.
For more help balancing social media use from Melanie Hempe of Families Managing Media, click here.
To learn how to reverse the dysregulating effects of screen-time on your child's mood, focus, and behavior, see Reset Your Child's Brain.