Keep the bond strong with junior ― tweak your fuddy-duddy skills to meet your tech-savvy offspring’s interests!


As if the Terrible Twos and threenage years weren’t enough trauma, in the blink of an eye, your little one is now a pre-teen. At the cusp of teenhood, junior’s brain is rewiring, his body is flooded with hormones, he’s struggling to find himself ― and he’s left you very confused on how to approach him.

While he needs his privacy, it isn’t wise to leave your kiddo alone too much as studies show that the parents’ relationship with their tween can make or break their kid’s teenage years. In fact, the stronger the parent and child connection, the less chance your child has of falling into substance abuse, bad company or experiencing academic failure.

A simple way to bond with your broody tween is to figure out what he or she is interested in and get into it, too. Watch their favourite TV shows with them, attempt to play or watch them play video games and speak to them in their lingo.

No, you’re not trying to be a lame old so-and-so, you just want to keep the bond going with your tween and have fun at the same time. To give you a head start, we round up the top 10 things your tween is likely involved with at the moment.

1. Tween TV

She’s off Peppa Pig, but she’s not quite ready for Orange is the New Black either. So, what’s junior watching these days? If she’s a horror or thriller buff then Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries and Teen Wolf might be topping her list. By the way, youngsters prefer web-streaming on-demand content over traditional TV, so your tween has probably asked you (or will be asking) for permission to sign up for Netflix and Amazon Prime Videos, which is still in the trial stages. Here, you can find an array of the latest TV shows and movies to watch ― as and when you feel like it. You can even download movies and TV shows for offline viewing ― family movie night sorted!

2. Music streaming

Just like traditional TV, music players like MP3s, Discmans and iPods are more or less dead as the dodo. Right now, the juggernauts in on-demand music streaming available in Singapore are Spotify, iTunes/ Apple Music and SoundCloud. For a nominal fee, they offer an extensive library of more than 40 million songs (from Guns N’ Roses to The Weeknd, you can sure you’ll find your favourite artistes here), 24/7 radio stations, plus new albums are uploaded regularly. On SoundCloud, kids can also record, upload, and share their own audio files. By the way, YouTube Music also offers a diverse catalogue of artists and videos ― free!

Right now, the juggernauts in on-demand music streaming available in Singapore are Spotify, iTunes/ Apple Music and SoundCloud.

3. YouTube

From watching the latest Taylor Swift music video and hamsters being given a bath (yes, that’s a real thing!) to a tutorial on how to perfect the smokey-eye look, YouTube has every kind of video imaginable. At this age your kiddo is probably hooked onto YouTube Challenges, where random people film themselves undertaking challenges (some risky, some not) such as chugging down a pint of fresh milk at one go or putting on makeup for your friend while blindfolded. Turns out our youth of today also enjoy watching people, er, open stuff from boxes. Aptly named Unboxing, these videos show random people, and even some celebs like singer Weird Al Yankovic, unboxing totally random stuff like gummy worms, smartphones, Play-Doh, Lego and Kinder Surprise eggs.

4. Social media influencers

Instead of being swayed by supermodels or celebrities to buy a product or try a service, your kid is now more interested in word-of-mouth recommendations by regular people. Known as influencers, these everyday people have a substantial reach and following on social media platforms, such as blogs, SnapChat, Instagram and Twitter and set the trends in fashion, beauty or food. Through product and event reviews, they have the power to shape the opinions and behaviour of many, especially tech-savvy youth. Popular local influencers junior might be “following” include blogger Xiaxue, food vlogger cum actor Tosh Zhang and YouTube sensation Tan JianHao.

5. Online gaming and coding

Ever wondered what your kid is up to when he’s staring at his computer for five hours straight, moving his mouse while punching buttons on his keyboard vigorously as he yells out profanities (oops, sorry mum!) from time to time? Easy answer: He’s playing video games. Not so much Pacman, although we’re sure he does occasionally, but more sophisticated ones like Assassin's Creed, Minecraft, Overwatch and Clash Royale. These games are played not only for their high entertainment value, but they also teach junior problem-solving skills, immerses him in creative thinking and indulges him in role playing. Online gaming also encourages junior to learn coding ― a programming language that allows your child to be a content creator ― which is quickly becoming a prized, 21st century skill.

Online gaming also encourages junior to learn coding ― a programming language that allows your child to be a content creator ― which is quickly becoming a prized, 21st-century skill.

6. Apps

When you ask your kiddo a question (“How tall are you?”) and he answers with, “There’s an app to find that out,” – he’s not kidding. Your youngster is indeed using an app for everything – he’s figuring out what time the bus or train will be arriving when he uses Citymapper, he’s using various filters to take selfies and wefies via Instagram or sharing them on Snapchat. Oh and he’s also busy taking super-short looping “micro videos” on Instagram’s Boomerang, which injects a bit of fun into everyday moments and bring them to life.

7. Lingo

She’s soon going to enter the monosyllabic phase, but for now, typing or speaking in full sentences is too much of a hassle for your tween. Welcome to pre-teen slang – its super-short, catchy and to the point. And if it’s ever left you scratching your head, here’s a bit of help. BRB = “Be Right Back”, TBH = “To Be Honest”, SMH = “Shake My Head”, ROFL = “Roll On the Floor Laughing”, Litt = “Awesome” and oh, the one that your pre-teen doesn’t want you to know she knows ― AF = “As Fu*k”.

8. Gifs and Emojis

As if their secret code, slang and shorthand isn’t mind boggling enough, your tweenager also has an arsenal of tools that can sum up her feelings in one image. Instead of saying it with flowers, your youngster is now sending gifs ― short looping videos of someone giving another person a bouquet. She’s also expressing her sentiments with a smiley face, an angry face, cutesy hearts and kisses and face-palming your dorky dad jokes.

She’s also expressing his sentiments with a smiley face, an angry face, cutesy hearts and kisses and face-palming your dorky dad jokes.

9. Social media

So many ways to stay connected these days, so little time! Your youngster is heading to sites such Twitter to sum up his day in 140-character messages called tweets. Or he could be sending a goofy photo or video on Snapchat to his buds (which will disappear in 24 hours), or on Instagram, hoping to get as many “likes” as possible. He considers Facebook “uncool” because it’s “outdated”, so he’s off to Tumblr, a microblog, where he creates a “tumblog” via text, photos and/or videos and audio clips and share it as a blog post with his followers. He’s also hashtaging like crazy on all of his social media feeds: #throwbackthursday #3daystillfriday #comeiclapforyou etc. This metadata is a type of label or tag that makes it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content online.

10. Virtual Reality (VR) headsets

Don’t be surprised if your pre-teen skips past the latest smartphone or PlayStation gaming set and asks ever-so-sweetly for a VR set. These handheld devices offer three-dimensional views and feelings of being at a different place. You could be sitting on your couch and skiing in the Alps at the same time or riding down a scary rollercoaster ride. How cool is that! VR sets come in all different price ranges. From low-end ones like Google Cardboard VR (US$12.95/ SG $18.63) to the mid-range Samsung Gear VR (US $60) and high-end PlayStation VR Launch Bundle($499.99).

#SMARTgen #TheFutureisNOW #GetAGripOfOurFuture

Photos: iStock

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