‘tween // [tween] preposition 1. contraction of between. noun 2. Also, tween. A youngster between 10 and 12 years of age, considered too old to be a child and too young to be a teenager.
The Tween Demographic
The definition of a “tween” market (ages 8 to 12) has changed the advertising landscape as we know it. Danielle Hulan, in her study of branding and tween identity, writes that this vulnerable generation has been “raised by a commodity culture from the cradle [… their] dependably fragile self-images and their need to belong to groups are perfect qualities for advertisers to exploit” (Quart, cited in Hulan, 2007). In fact, many corporations hire the expertise of market research companies like Look-Look to hunt for the next “cool thing.” The marketing of “cool” forces tweens to grow up quickly. Industry research reveals that children 11 and older don’t consider themselves children anymore. The Toy Manufacturers of America has changed their target market from birth to 14, to birth to ten years of age. By treating tweens as independent, mature consumers, marketers are essentially erasing the parents from the picture.
I sit at my computer, in my living room. The TV is on, Facebook is open, messages are chiming and a bouncing icon is telling me I have unread mail. I would love nothing better than to sit here uninterrupted and write this blog, but the realities of digital media are allowing me to fall victim to the media multitasking phenomenon.
Girl gamers carry a stigma in society; they’re girls who like ‘boy things’ (video games and sports). The genre needs to be revamped into a place where girls can play games designed *shock* FOR GIRLS. It’s time to revolutionize the market. So why is the market this way? And what can we do to start changing it?
For the past two years, I’ve worked part-time at a ski shop. I fit kids ages 3-12 for skis, boots and outerwear. If you’ve ever taken a little one ski shopping, then you know it can be a lengthy process. After being measured, weighed and stuffed into a hot, puffy snow outfit, it’s no wonder they get restless. Since equipment and outerwear fitting is a long sweaty, process, kids often bring some form of electronic entertainment with them. Most of them bring their Nintendo DS’s.
Children today are spending more time on screens and by the time they reach their early twenties they will probably be exposed to more than a million ads. Some would argue that the increased exposure to advertising has made children, teens and young adults more media savvy than ever before, but I think this over exposure is actually clouding their judgment. Read more >>
In the Children’s Entertainment Program at Centennial College, I teach the two courses in the business of children’s entertainment category. In addition to learning about the landscape of children’s media, the regulatory and funding frameworks and the legal and financial aspects of the industry, we spend a lot of time reviewing news and topical issues. Beyond just the “who’s who” and “who’s doing what,” we track trends and lightening rod issues—and this leads to some of our most interesting discussions. Read more >>
For Christmas this year, I decided to skip the meal prep, mall nightmares and cocktail circuit and opted instead to book my family on a seven day, Caribbean cruise (fortunately not a Costa cruise!). Given it was a Christmas sailing, we were pretty much guaranteed a non-stop parade of kids. The thundering hooves down our stateroom hallway short minutes into the trip confirmed my hunch. While my teenagers mostly wanted to lock them up, as a youth researcher I saw unleashed kids as a bonus and was excited at the prospect of viewing my target in the wild. Read more >>
I spent many screen-time hours encouraging my young daughters to watch television with an open mind and think critically about their viewing, especially in recent years with the onslaught of reality shows like Real World, The Bachelor and The Hills. In addition to my annoying reminders and play-by-play while viewing these shows, they’ve also been exposed to many aspects of media coaching from workshops in the classroom to on-set studio visits. Actually, they’ve impressed me with their insightful observations over the years. They do get it and they’ve seen behind the curtain. But I believe there is another looming challenge ahead for parents who want to ensure they are raising truly media savvy viewers—and no one is talking about this yet. Am I the only one concerned about TV cooking shows and their impact on our kids?
Have you ever gone to a film with a friend only to discover that you may as well have been at different movies because your interpretations of the story were so different? This happens because we use our life experiences to make meaning from any text that engages us. Age, gender, race and ethnicity are just some of the lenses that determine our interpretation of a narrative. If you discuss a shared film experience with a young child, you would be surprised at how developmental issues make the child’s movie experience quite different from your own. Having enjoyed the first Stuart Little with my grandson, I invited him to see the sequel. As we found our seats in the theatre he looked over and announced, “You know Grandma, Stuart Little is going to be very glad to see us.” This was an “aha” moment for me because my grandson and I had vastly different experiences with the same movie.
The Canadian Toy Testing Council (CTTC) published its annual Toy Report last month after 6 to 8 weeks of testing by over 220 families and 500 children. After reviewing the list of this year’s Children’s Choice and Best Betaward-winning toys, I was surprised to see that the number of interactive tech toys was smal
l. Interestingly, toys that encourage and facilitate creative thought and imaginative play were the most popular. This year’s selections identify what I believe is a change in values and attitudes by parents and children towards how they wish to spend their entertainment time. Read more >>
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