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Empathetic Strategies for Parenting a Tween's Social Media Journey

Empathetic Strategies for Parenting a Tween's Social Media Journey

Dear WeBe,

My tween is so into social media. She is only 12 and I struggle with allowing her to be on social media for acceptance yet worrying about her ability to appropriately handle what she is engaged in and discern what she should and should not be watching. I want to trust her but it really scares me, especially when I see some of the things her friends send her.

Caring Parent


Dear Caring Parent,

Navigating your tween's social media journey can stir up a whirlwind of emotions and concerns. It's understandable to feel anxious and scared about her exposure to various online content and her ability to navigate the digital world responsibly.

Firstly, I commend you for your care and commitment to your tween's well-being. It's evident that you deeply value her safety and want to support her in making choices in her online interactions that tend to her well-being.

In approaching this situation, it’s essential to connect empathetically with your tween's experience. Start by expressing your feelings and needs around her social media usage in a way that invites understanding and mutual respect. For instance, you might say, "I feel scared and worried because I want you to be safe and happy, and I need  peace of mind that you can handle the things you see online."

Next, engage your tween in a dialogue that fosters collaboration and mutual understanding. Rather than labeling content as appropriate or inappropriate, focus on helping your tween discern what feels comfortable and will serve her well-being and meet her needs. Perhaps she's seeking acceptance, connection with friends, autonomy, or a sense of play and creativity. By understanding her underlying needs, you can better guide her in making choices that align with her values and contribute to her overall well-being. Her learning how to navigate social media from her own intrinsic values and motivations will actually be what gives you the peace of mind that you are looking for, especially as she gets older and more independent. 

Together, co-create guidelines and boundaries that honor both your concerns and your tween's autonomy. Focus on finding solutions that prioritize her safety and well-being while respecting her need for independence and social connection. For example, you could agree on specific time limits for social media usage or mutually decide on which platforms are suitable for her age. To promote honesty and openness between you and your tween, encourage her to share any questionable content she encounters on social media so that together you can explore and discuss it. By creating a nonjudgmental space for her to express herself, you can collaboratively decide how to approach such content, whether by opting to avoid it completely or watching it together to discuss any concerns. This approach fosters trust and communication while empowering your tween to make informed choices about her online experiences.

Ultimately, our goal is to empower your tween to make choices that serve her health and well-being, even when you're not around. Help her develop the skills to assess the impact of the content she encounters online, including factors such as safety, respect for others, and consideration of her own needs.

Lastly, let her know that you are always available to offer guidance and support whenever she needs it. Emphasize the priority of fostering open communication and reassure her that sharing concerns or challenges encountered online is not only welcomed but encouraged, creating a space for collaborative problem-solving and mutual understanding.

By approaching the topic of social media with empathy, collaboration, and a focus on mutual well-being, you can cultivate a stronger bond with your tween and empower her to navigate the digital world with confidence and resilience.

Good luck to you and remember, webe in this together!

Best wishes,


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