is a North American neologism that describes a person who is between the ages of 9 and 12 years old (grades 4-7). The term is often described in popular media as referring to a pre-adolescent (usually female) who is at the "in-between" stage in their development when they are considered "too old for toys, too young for boys". The "tween" stage ends with the onset of puberty.
Tweens are "in-between" being a child
Biologically, a child is generally a human between the stages of birth and puberty. Some vernacular definitions of a child include the fetus, as being an unborn child. The legal definition of "child" generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority...
and a teen. They are children in the sense that they are not yet teenagers, but they differ from small children in that they are not primarily occupied with play
Play is a term employed in ethology and psychology to describe to a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities normally associated with pleasure and enjoyment...
. They are often going through a period of rapid social, physiological and emotional development
Child development stages describe theoretical milestones of child development. Many stage models of development have been proposed, used as working concepts and in some cases asserted as nativist theories....
. The tween years are a time of the most rapid and dramatic change in development since conception.
There are currently 20 million tweens in the U.S. and they are projected to hit 23 million by 2020 (U.S. Census). Tweens are a highly diverse segment of the U.S. population. Minorities will comprise more than half of all children by 2023, with nearly 40% projected to be Hispanic.
"Literature suggests that when children reach their tween years (12 years old) they begin to develop unique social needs and desires, and reveal distinctive hopes, dreams, and expectations for the future. Most notably in this age group, physical changes brought on by the onset of puberty are accompanied by emotional changes. Tweens begin to develop their own sense of self and seek out information from parents and peers that will help them further define themselves. They are beginning to identify their own interests and express themselves through their activities. At the same time, tween self-esteem is in development and fragile, at best. As such, tweens are highly affected by peer
Peer may refer to:*People who are equal in such respects as age, education or social class etc., as in peer group*A member of the peerage, a system of honours or nobility in various countries*A variant of Peter in Scandinavic and Dutch languages...
s and face pressures and worries that are often focused on how they will fit in and interact with others in society."
Key characteristics of modern day tweens
- Highly participative – tweens enjoy things that are fun and interactive
- Highly connected – use of internet, cell phones, etc. They interact with technology, seeing electronic devices as an extension of themselves rather than a medium of communication.
- Achievement oriented – “Eighty percent of tweens say they feel stress/pressure, with the root of their stress coming predominately from themselves, followed by their peers and then their parents. Stress factors include grades, pleasing parents, having friends/fitting in/popularity and looks.”
- Will fight for social time.
Tweens in marketing
The word "tweens" is used by marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...
firms and advertisers targeting
Targeted advertising is a type of advertising whereby advertisements are placed so as to reach consumers based on various traits such as demographics, purchase history, or observed behavior....
Demographics are the most recent statistical characteristics of a population. These types of data are used widely in sociology , public policy, and marketing. Commonly examined demographics include gender, race, age, disabilities, mobility, home ownership, employment status, and even location...
, which include tweens and young children. Marketers no longer target kids aged 2–11 as one segment. Instead, they target four specific demographics: toddlers (0–1), preschoolers (2–5), children (6–11), and Pre Teens (12).