Skip to content

When you introduce ideas and values about online behaviors to your tween in a way that is natural and integrated into your daily routine, you are planting the seeds for them to contemplate and to potentially explore with you in future conversations.

When you sow seeds to grow a plant, there is so much that goes on beneath the surface before you ever see anything sprout.  With time and the right growing environment, your patience will likely be rewarded with a seedling.

Similarly, when you plant the seeds with your tween, a lot of the growing and learning is going on below the surface.  Have faith and let this unseen work happen with no expectations.  Don’t look for your tween to confirm that they “get it.”  They will eventually show you and most likely not tell you.  

Why Plant the Seeds 

When you plant the seeds for safe and responsible online interactions, you are accomplishing several important things.  First, you are creating the opportunity for future conversations by giving your tween ideas to contemplate.  Secondly, you are signaling that their online lives are something you are interested in and that get talked about.  Finally, you are putting your voice in their head with the hope that yours is among those they hear when they need guidance. 

Ways To Plant the Seeds

Reminder: Although tweens are starting to prioritize peer relationships, they are still attached to, and learning from, the important adults in their lives even if their whole vibe is, “You are so cringe.”

  1. 1 Keep talking to your tween

    Try not to have expectations about how the conversation will flow or an agenda about what you want to cover. Don’t feel pressure to cover everything all at once or to get your tween to agree with you.

  2. 2 Don’t forget the importance of talking AROUND your tween.

    Even if it doesn’t seem like it, your tween is listening! Talk with your partner or friends about things like:

    • when the two of you will communicate online and when you need to talk in person
    • current events that involve social media use (maybe you read an article about a teen who raised money for a good cause, or maybe there’s news coverage about someone behaving badly online)
    • how you can handle a sticky online situation you are grappling with.
  3. 3 Narrate

    Share your thoughts about how you communicate online. When you pick up a device, do your writing and editing out loud. Check out our Demystify Your Digital Life activity to get started.

  4. 4 Model

    Children are influenced by what you do. Show them your family’s online values through your actions. Our Text with your Tween and Get Permission Before Posting activities are great ways to incorporate modeling into your daily routine.

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