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3 Steps to Keep Your Tween Engaged This Winter

by Ronald A. Rowe | January 22nd, 2015 | Seasonal, Tweens

tween on computer (400x399)Christmas has come and gone but the cold of winter remains.  The Christmas wish list of most tweens is filled with video games and BluRay discs and gift cards to online wonderlands beyond the ken of mere parents.  If your tween got even a quarter of the electronic loot on his list, he’ll have enough entertainment lined up to keep him occupied until the spring thaw.  In and of itself, that is not a bad thing.  But your ten, eleven, twelve year old child probably has not yet developed the kind of self-governance that is required to know when it is time to break away from the gadgets and engage in the real world.  That’s where you come in.

The modern age provides too many electronic delights.  The real world just can’t keep up.  Couple that with the frigid cold that envelopes most of the civilized world during the post-Christmas winter months and you have a dangerous recipe for isolation.  Never has staying in one’s room all alone for hours on end, day after day, been so enticing an alternative as it is in the 21st century life of a First World tween.

“Disconnect and Engage” is the rallying cry in our home.  When the tweens get too caught up for too long in their tablets, iPhones, Xbox, etc. it is time for them to disconnect from the virtual world and engage with live human beings in the real world.  Here are a few tried and true tricks to make the transition from online to real-live go a little more smoothly.

  1. Give them a heads up – Tweens play games that are complex on a variety of levels.  The game does not end when the power is turned off.  It just goes on hold until the player returns and reenters the campaign.  Such complicated game play cannot be interrupted without notice without causing some problems for the player.  Giving your child a two minute warning before enforcing Disconnect gives him the opportunity to exit and save gracefully and will make the Disconnect easier for everyone involved.
  2. Really, really mean it – If you follow step #1 and give your child a two minute warning, stick with it.  If you come back in two minutes and he is still completely immersed in the game, it is time for the tough love.  If you let him start the shutdown at that time you are simply teaching him that you don’t expect first-time obedience.  That’s a path you do not want to follow.
  3. Set an example – Do not insist that your tween separate from his game while you sit there and check Facebook on your iPhone.  When it is time for your child to Engage it is time for you to Engage also.  Use the time to play a board game or go for a walk through the snow or talk about school or check homework or any one of dozens of activities that the two of you can do together without any electronic devices.
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