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At TDSU we believe that there are a set of Thumbs Down skills kids can be taught to help them be responsible and eventually independent online. But how do you know when your child is developmentally ready to start learning these skills? What signposts should you look for to know if your child is ready to take the next steps towards independence?

How do you know when your child is ready to start learning the Thumbs Down skills?

We set children up to succeed when we align the skills we want them to learn with their developmental capacity to do so. 

While there are a number of cognitive, physical, social, and emotional developmental tasks and changes during adolescence, TDSU has identified six which are of particular significance for engaging with social media:

  1. An increased ability to see things from the perspective of another
  2. Becoming less egocentric
  3. An increased ability to anticipate consequences
  4. An increased ability to delay gratification
  5. Engaging in self-reflection
  6. An increased capacity for impulse control

If your child is showing an interest in social media, ask yourself if you are seeing growth in any of these areas.  This is how you will know your child is ready to start learning the Thumbs Down skills.

How do you know when your child is ready to gain more independence?

We keep kids motivated to learn by acknowledging their growth and increasing their privileges and responsibilities in a way that compliments their demonstrated capacity.

As your tween begins to exhibit more developmental maturity and shows that they are integrating – and perhaps in some cases mastering – the Thumbs Down skills,  you can begin to increase their independence in a way that builds on their strengths. 

For example, if you started your tween out texting in a group chat with family, you might find that they are now ready to start a group chat with one or two friends.   Perhaps your child is prepared to join a social media platform and have their Trusted Team follow them.  Or maybe your child is ready for their Trusted Team to be made up of peers, rather than trusted adults.

Don’t just follow your kids online.  Lead them.