Tweens, Teens and Technology: Tips to Get Movin’ and Groovin’ Back to School
While I would like to have an endless summer, reality looms right around the clock. In fact, this week, I lamented with my teen friend, Gabe, a lifeguard at the pool where I swim, about our sad, summer good-bye. This means, we both need to get movin’ and groovin’ with a back to school mindset!
Similarly, every parent, educator, and adult leader can most likely use some steps for school success. Preferably, steps for school success that don’t break the summer memories or one’s budget. While back to school means a return to routine, this can be made a little easier if parents start early, secure school supplies, and shut off the technology. Most importantly, parents need to make sure they have their tweens and teens online protection in place.
Return to Routine
Even with the best intentions, in the summer, many parents let their tweens and teens break their school year routines. The relaxed feel and freedom of summer causes most of us to run a little wild and wander a bit far. Therefore, some tweens and teens have a harder time than others with their return to routine.
The National Sleep Association recommends that children six to 13 years old which includes tweens, get 9-11 hours of sleep per night, while teens should get 8-10 hours. In many areas, tweens and teens start school at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. This means that many tweens and teens get up at about 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. With such an early morning, tweens and teens would have to go to bed at 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. or earlier to get the appropriate amount of sleep. Of course, most don’t and the American Academy of Pediatrics calls this a public health issue.
A lack of sleep in teens and tweens can lead to poor grades, mental health challenges, car crashes, and an array of other serious concerns. Herein, parents can take a few simple steps to get their tweens and teens to return to their routine:
- Start early
- Secure school supplies
- Shut off the technology.
1. Start Early
The days have started to get slightly darker which normally means another school year around the bend and a good time for parents to gradually break their tweens and teens into their return to routine. Rather than wait for the week before school, start to break your tweens and teens into their routine a few weeks early. Think of this as training for a race. One starts with a run around the block and builds to a mile and then a marathon. This way, your tweens and teens will have a gradual process and be grateful that they were eased into their school schedule.
One can even use this race analogy in a conversation with your tweens or teens. Another idea would be to use a skill or sport where your child can relate and make your case. Then, be sure to implement your return to routine policy. Remember, slow and steady to win this race.
2. Secure School Supplies
With school supplies, start to secure them around the same time you begin to return your tweens or teens to routine. This will help your child get in the back to school mindset. Plus, your child will have a chance to prepare and organize one’s purchases and see what may still be needed. Many times, even in the older grades, schools give a list of necessary supplies and what may be provided by the institution. A secure start will also give you time to look around for some deep discounts.
Even as a Professor, one of my favorite parts of back to school lies in my new supplies. I love the cool and colorful pencils and pens, notebooks, along with the distinct technological gadgets and accessories. However, as every parent knows, these supplies can cost a mini-fortune. If you want to go on a treasure hunt for simple items like pencils and pens, notebooks and similar items, see if your city has a dollar store. These supplies can be found for as the name says, a dollar. Since many teachers buy their classroom items, they often purchase them at the dollar store. Likewise, every parent should make use of a dollar store particularly for items that tweens and teens often lose like pens and pencils.
Other supplies like computer accessories can usually be found at reasonably priced stores like Target or Wal-Mart. Now would be the time to check for back to school discounts. These days, the discounts seem to start earlier and one does not want to miss out!
At many private schools, items like iPads may be included as part of the tuition. However, in public schools this will most likely not be the case. Ideally, a computer at home will be what most tweens or teens need so parents should look for companies that provide educational discounts or where one can make monthly payments if needed.
To begin, check with your tweens’ or teens’ school and see if they use a specific company for computers. Many companies like Apple have an education store and/or offer discounts for college students. Sites like Amazon, will allow you to purchase an item and utilize their no interest financing. Right now, college students can get a free six-month Amazon Prime membership and then after the six-months, upgrade to 50% off. For more specific details, click here.
Be sure to also ask about software. Sometimes companies and schools also have software for students at discounts. These programs may have limitations but normally suffice for school work.
Because most schools require some level of technological use, every parent should be aware of the local library hours where their tweens and teens can use the computers. Normally, these computers can be used for one to two hours per day. Additionally, the library computers can be a great backup should tweens and teens have any computer problems at home.
3. Shut Off the Technology
Similar to sometimes unorthodox sleep schedules, in the summer, parents sometimes give their tweens and teens a little more time with technology. However, as school approaches, like the rest of one’s routine, technological time should get back on track. Researchers Moulin and Chung found in 2017 that teens to include college students often put their technology ahead of their academics and sleep. In fact, these researchers found many young people sleep with their technology. Thus, Moulin and Chung recommended that parents set technological guidelines to begin with their pre-teens so that this mindset carries as they age.
To begin, Moulin and Chung recommend that parents make sure their tweens and teens shut off their technology one-hour before bed. With this in mind, it would be wise for tweens and teens to place their technological gadgets in a parking space for the family phones. This way, they won’t be tempted to turn on the technology if they cannot get to sleep right away or wake up in the middle of the night.
Ideally, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, technology should be kept out of the bedroom as it should be used for rest and/or sleep. However, realistically, tweens and teens may have a computer in their bedroom to do their homework. In any case, parents should limit their tweens and teens screen time (to include television) use to two-hours per day as also recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Of course, some adjustments can be made should one’s child have a unique program arise or a special homework assignment.
With so many different technological devices, parents can feel like a mouse in a maze as they seek to find the best way to keep aware and protect their children. Therefore, the start of each school year, would be a good time for every parent to double-check their tweens and teens technology for safeguards. Many websites like Parents have articles such as “A Guide to Parental Controls by Device” by Michelle Crouch. Moreover, a search on Google can be easily performed for more information on how to put some online boundaries.
Because schools at times have changes to their technology as do tweens and teens, parents should check their devices every month. This way, your tweens and teen will also be reminded that as a parent, you have a technological presence. Moreover, make this a positive experience as no one likes to feel micromanaged.
As we say good-bye to summer, if we haven’t already, let’s get movin’ and groovin’ with a back to school mindset. Just like in a race, one’s start will propel us forward to then get some school supplies, shut off the technology, and get online protection in place. In his poem, Summer Song, the poet, William Carlos Williams said, “In summer, the song sings itself,” and while I hope your summer has been filled with blissful memories of travel, ice cream cones, warm sunsets, water sports, and a childlike spirit, we must now get ready to turn our clocks. Yes, we must set our tweens and teens up for a new season of school success!