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Family Computer - Tweens

Tips and Tools for Using the Computer with Your Tween

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Tween girls using a computer

Tweens love the social aspects of the computer

Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

About the Family Computer for Tweens

The definition of a "tween" varies, but in this case we're talking about kids roughly 9-12 in age. Use your judgement about when your child fits this developmental age group. Generally, you'll find that your tweens are showing more interest in social networking and connecting with friends online. You'll start to have more challenges around what is and isn't appropriate in terms of computer use and it's very possible that they will start trying to hide their online activities. This is an age when kids start to assert more independence and expect more privacy. It's also likely that they are getting computer time at school and maybe at friends' houses, so it's a good idea to make sure you make your family rules and expectations clear.

Safety and Health

If you've done your due diligence at earlier ages, your kids will understand the basics of Internet safety, as well as good computing habits. That leaves you to focus on more serious issues that face this age group. Since they are more independent and more focused on social activities, you'll want to talk with them about cyberbullying, sexting and the type of image they want to project to the world.

Games and Software

Your tweens may or may not enjoy playing video games. If they do, all of your game systems (Wii, PlayStation, Xbox, PSP, DS) should be counted in the "computer time" limits you set in your household. Look for software and games with an E (Everyone) or E10 (Everyone 10+) rating from the ESRB. Games with a T rating may or may not fit into what your family considers appropriate for your children. They tend to include more sexual and violent content. Games with an M (Mature) rating are not recommended as they are frequently too violent and/or sexual to be appropriate at this age. You can encourage social gaming (and eliminate at least a few family fights) by choosing games that have a multiplayer option. Puzzle games are a nice choice for this age group since they require some problem solving skills without a lot of violent gameplay. Creative software is also a great option for tweens.

Websites

Tweens still show a lot of interest in virtual worlds, but may start moving past those they enjoyed when they were younger to sites that allow for more chatting and interaction. Expect requests for social networking profiles which are often not appropriate for tweens.

Gadgets and Tools

Tweens are gadget hounds. From cellphones and iPods to PSPs and DSi's, tweens like to have the latest and greatest. Parents should remember that most devices today are Internet-capable, so your Internet safety efforts won't be limited to just your family computer. The good news? Many of these devices are capable of a variety of functions, so you probably won't have to buy them all.

Projects

Tweens have an unlimited supply of creativity. Give them a digital camera and some editing software and expect amazing results. If your tween looks a little stuck, make sure to offer your help!
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