New HCF report into parenting tweens reveals modern challenges


A study into the challenges faced by Australian parents of children aged 8-12 (tweens) has revealed a raft of challenges from talking about gender and cultural identity to online gaming and editing photos on social media.

HCF has published the 'Growing Great Teens Report' to coincide with the launch of the fourth season of its Navigating Parenthood Podcast.

The season is hosted by father and media presenter Dylan Lewis, who discusses with other parents the experience of raising today’s tweens.

Speaking with familiar voices, like Susie Maroney, Robbie Buck and Pia Miranda, he tackles issues faced by many families, from raising mentally strong kids and navigating the online universe, to how to foster family connection and recognise the identity biases faced by children in preadolescence.

HCF chief officer of member health, Julie Andrews, said parenting was a challenging task for many Australians but the tween years could present particularly complex challenges.

“The mental and emotional changes ‘tweens’ experience while transitioning from childhood to becoming a teenager can be really significant for the tween, but also for the parent,” said Ms Andrews.

“Our new podcast series helps shine a light on some of these important topics. Dylan’s conversations with guests will help listeners know they’re not alone in navigating issues all Australian families are facing.”

Podcast host Dylan Lewis is himself a father to tweens: Rose, 13, and Jethro, nine.

“Tweens are those little people in our homes who are one minute chatting passionately about climate change and politics, and then the next minute having a sock sliding competition down the hallway, which I always win,” said Dylan Lewis, who is a father to Rose (13) and Jethro (9).

“I'm learning as much as I can along the journey in this world, in this era. And it's mostly from my kids, to be honest. But I want to learn more. I want to get it right. And so does everyone I know.”

Highlights of the Growing Great Tweens report include the finding that almost four in ten (39 per cent) parents who take some action to protect the identity of children in photos when posting online, will blur out other kids when posting photos on social media while 80 per cent believe their tween will suffer long term impacts as a result of living through the COVID-19 pandemic. The top three anticipated impacts are increased dependence on technology for entertainment, struggles with schoolwork due to disrupted learning and increased social anxiety.