What can teens do with they “hang out”?
February 19, 2020 2:05 AM   Subscribe

My 13 yr old kiddo is intimidated to invite new acquaintances to “hang out” for fear of them being bored. Can you share what your teens do after school together?

She has never had an easy time really connecting with other kids, and after her best friend moved away over the summer, she still hasn’t recovered. She wants a real-life friend or two. She is extremely bright, hilarious and sweet. She spends most of her time reading grown-up books and drawing. She is not into her phone at all and is frustrated by the interest in TikToks, IG, etc. She plays sports, but no one wants to do more of that after all their practices and games. I’m not a great example, I don’t “hang out” with anyone but one lovely friend I’ve had for years and my family.
posted by gryphonlover to Human Relations (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Board games are perfect for this, or DND if that's her speed.

Maybe watching movies together? There are many great recipes for stove-popped popcorn on the interwebs
posted by Tamanna at 3:13 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]

My kids usually have mixed gender get-togethers. Most of the time the proposed activity is watching a movie, but they almost always cue up the movie, pop some popcorn, then proceed to talk and joke right over anything on the screen. Often they cook or bake together. Or make hot chocolate. Sometimes card games. Often a walk around the neighborhood to a park or cafe. Around holidays you can have something ostensibly crafty, though don't be surprised if they pay it no mind after 10 minutes.
posted by cocoagirl at 3:22 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]

Play videogames, watch a movie, go into town and get into trouble. When I was 13 it was just at the tail-end of being outside on my bike a lot. I grew up in the countryside, so maybe that doesn't suit, but the great outdoors is way more fun than being cooped up at home. Long walks into unknown bits of the countryside are the best adventures when you are 13.
posted by 0bvious at 3:32 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]

Local-multiplayer video games: Minecraft, Mario Kart, Just Dance
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:39 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]

Going to the park or beach if nearby (13 is about the age we started doing this alone but ymmv for your area).
Definitely movies.
Definitely board games.
Definitely baking.

When the weather is good, just sitting in the garden if you have one and doing dumb games like "human showjumping" over chairs with bamboo poles, playing catch, playing with the dog, duck-duck-goose and other circle games, sunbathing/"picknicking" or revising for school together out on a blanket.
posted by Balthamos at 3:50 AM on February 19

13 is a hard age and it isn't clear to me if your daughter has specificly asked that you give her ideas for how to 'hang out' or if you are imposing this onto her? Finding friends is hard enough without additional pressure from parents.

Rather than helping her to 'hang out' I would propose that you support her to find additional organized youth activities (theatre group?, art class, LARP, political group, religious youth group, overnight camp) that will provide a social group parellel to the school social group.
posted by jazh at 4:16 AM on February 19 [9 favorites]

I was a 13 year old who loved to read and draw. Things I did with my friends at that age included drawing and reading, just in the same room as each other!

Also we watched plenty of tv and movies - usually while also drawing. We did collages out of stacks of magazines my mom brought home and saved for me (she saved a lot of different art supplies) that we glued mostly to the inside of manila folders or big sketchpad paper - they were always goofy with toilet humor and dumb puns and never attempts at being overly artistic because that wasn't what it was about. We'd go on short walks around the neighborhood with a roll of film in our cameras and take photos of each other doing silly poses and of animals we'd see and pretty plants or whatever - of course phones now make this less special, but it could still give walks purpose. There was a period when we were really into making short movies and had whole plots and costumes and scripts worked out and no actual follow through - but that was a fantastic summer, despite being 13. We played videogames too, but they were really just ways to pass the time - I didn't become a "gamer" until much later.

My house was the cool house with the cool mom - I've talked about it before here in different questions, but I'm eternally grateful to my parents for being so welcoming to my few friends. They were really good at making our house a good place to go. We always had snacks and my parents never made my friends feel bad or rude for being themselves and they always gave us plenty of space to just hang out together. Friends would come back to spend time at my place to get away from their annoying parents - and this clinched some important friendships for me that wouldn't have otherwise happened, I think.

I think that a lot of the technology these days like TikTok and Insta and all that phone stuff is really an extension of the kinds of things that many creative kids do naturally. I mean, collages? Photo sticker apps are little collage studios. Movies? TikTok's got soundtrack options built in, instagram stories are like flipbooks. It's of course fine to not be into tech, but she might like to reframe them as useful tools and toys for her to make hanging out with people more fun or accessible.
posted by Mizu at 4:19 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]

Ok, this is kind of left field, but when my daughter (who is 12) has someone over she doesn't know very well for the first time, she almost always does an egg drop with them. You know, the kind where you try to package an egg well enough that if you drop it from someplace high, it won't break. They grab a bunch of stuff from the recycling bin, plus whatever straws or popsicle sticks might be in the house, spend a while building their packages and then toss the results out of her second floor bedroom window. If your successful and the egg doesn't break, you get to do it again. If you fail, you get the transgressive pleasure of having smashed an egg.

It scales pretty well to a few kids (though the potential mess does get bigger), and it's a pretty easy sell: "let's throw eggs out the window!"
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 5:09 AM on February 19 [10 favorites]

What about watching sports together, with some of the friends from her sports? My kids are into martial arts and they have friends over to watch martial arts movies.

I realize kids don't hang at the mall any more but sometimes it's easier to make friends by hanging out in a third space first, so maybe something like that...indoor trampoline, book reading, craft fair, Home Depot teen workshop, library event, movie, going out for a meal, escape room, free yoga class with a stop for frozen yogurt next.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:36 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

I have a 14 year old who "hangs out" with her friends after school.

Phone socializing is a big part of her social life (Mizu describes it well, and its so intimately tied to that generational experience it may be worth a reframe), but I think the fundamental thing they do is (literally) "hang out". Like privately, without parents, they have conversations with each other, either about gossipy, unimportant things... or sometimes its really important. When they get bored of sitting in their room, they like to walk to the Walgreens or bodega and buy candy.

Its basically exactly what I did when I was a teenager plus the phone - commune with other teenagers without the disturbing presence of idiot adults.

Maybe your daughter isn't so into "hanging out", but I think that's what it means. Also YMMV, but baking cookies and dropping them at the door has been the thing my kid and friends like me to do... they like it much less when I suggest things for them to do, or ask them how they are doing.
posted by RajahKing at 7:19 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

If your daughter is artistic, she might like going on “photo safaris,” going to a cafe to sketch, making her own clothes or accessories.

When I was that age, there were a lot of long walks through the neighborhood talking with my friends, dying and styling each others’ hair, doing our nails, wondering stores looking at stuff but never buying anything (even the corner store, didn’t have to be anyplace interesting), loooooots of listening to music or watching TV together, lots of doing everyday stuff (running errands or helping babysit or tagging along with each other’s families just wherever) that adults wouldn’t do together but kids might as well.
posted by rue72 at 7:21 AM on February 19

Just as a data point, when I was that age I played video games and Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, but I also spent a ton of time having this conversation:

"what do you want to do?"

"I don't know, what do you want to do?"
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:37 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]

My 14 year old has a "band". They don't have any finished songs yet, but, they practice down in the basement a couple times a week. We also have a VR setup that they play on a lot. They also wander around the neighborhood.
posted by trbrts at 7:51 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

I'm in my mid-twenties, so I know tech stuff has changed somewhat since I was that age, but here's what I remember doing:
-walking to barnes & noble and reading the magazines
-lots of cooking/baking, including makeshift iron chef competitions
-playing with the dog (and/or taking him for walks while chatting)
-walking to the library and playing games on side-by-side computers (this one may be somewhat dated, but the principle holds)
-board games
-walking to the grocery store to buy our own snacks (this one always felt very adult and independent)

We also did a lot of organized sports, but also did do some recreational stuff - we had a school across the street so we could use their facilities to play things like H-O-R-S-E, or going out and just goofing off with a ball. My brothers did that more than I did, though.
posted by mosst at 8:30 AM on February 19

Go outside!
posted by oceanjesse at 8:47 AM on February 19

> Mizu: I think that a lot of the technology these days like TikTok and Insta and all that phone stuff is really an extension of the kinds of things that many creative kids do naturally. I mean, collages? Photo sticker apps are little collage studios. Movies? TikTok's got soundtrack options built in, instagram stories are like flipbooks. It's of course fine to not be into tech, but she might like to reframe them as useful tools and toys for her to make hanging out with people more fun or accessible.

Yeah this is right on. One of the favorite pasttimes of my teenage daughter and her friends is sitting around and sharing whatever songs/videos/Vines/TikToks/GIFs they are into at the moment. We have a Chromecast attached to the TV in the den, so it makes it easy to share things to the big screen, but often they are just passing around their individual phones or whatever.

They also do a fair bit of exactly what we used to do with more primitive technology. We would call various friends, acquaintances or enemies were not present at the moment and entertain/annoy them. They do it now with texts and Snaps and FaceTime.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:43 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

Some kind of art/craft activity, perhaps? Teach themselves how to knit, embroider, sew? Tie-dyeing old clothes? Altering old jeans with embroidery, bleach, paint, etc? Experiment with nail art?
posted by medeine at 1:03 PM on February 19

It's possible 13 year olds have outgrown this by now, but would they want to make slime?
posted by kitcat at 1:06 PM on February 19

My 14-year old barricades themselves in their room with whatever friend is over and they watch old Vines on YouTube for hours. They'll also bake together and go on walks around the neighborhood, which is probably just an excuse to have a conversation that won't be overheard.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:36 PM on February 19

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate all the great ideas, experiences and perspectives! She is so worried about seeming “boring” that she didn’t even want to take the first step to socialize outside of school. All the responses will be a good resource.
posted by gryphonlover at 3:58 PM on February 19

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