There is no question in my mind that, on average, the most challenging years to parent screen time is in middle school. It can take a caregiver on a brutal emotional rollercoaster ride.
Three years ago, researchers at Arizona State University published a study in Developmental Psychology where they surveyed more than 2,200 mothers with children of all ages about how they were feeling about their lives. The researchers then compared mothers who only have children in one age group. You’d think the moms of babies missing out on sleep would be the most stressed. Not so. It was the mothers of middle school age children who reported the highest levels of stress.
But we do not need a survey to tell us this. Those of us with tweens and new teens are living it. I just want to take this moment to validate how freaking hard it can be for some of us.
Why is it so hard? In middle school kids bodies start to change, the hormones start pumping and their brains begin firing impulses, urges and strong emotions. Our kids start being exposed to risky situations and behaviors. The video games are more violent, the YouTube content is more illicit, the social media turns into an emotional landscape, and peer pressure is more prevalent than before.
How we interact with our middle school age kids changes too. The sweet, loving kid who loved to hug and listened to everything you said now flinches when touched and fights many of our rules and expectations. Read more