I despise the term “tween.” Did we honestly need another designation for a period of childhood? Back when I was a kid (my boys know to tune out NOW), at 12 years, one was a preteen. Nothing more, nothing less. “Tween,” it seems, refers to kids from 8 to 12, or nine to 14, or the 10 to 14 set, depending on the user. Eight? Really?!? My eight-year-old is a kid. Early elementary, if we must use school labels. He’s no where near teen, and, therefore, certainly not a “tween”.
My 12-year-old son is no “tween” either. Sure, he’s on the cusp of adolesence, at least by the numbers. Aside from his odor, he’s decidely prepubecent physically. He still loves stuffed animals, Pokemon, and building forts with couch cushions. He’s also a Rachmaninov fan, a TIME magazine reader, and Google Earth devotee. One moment, he’s logically discussing mathematics and then next he’s making annoying random sounds. He’s transitioning, gradually, in fits and stops, from childhood to adulthood. It’s a long process, one, according to brain maturation studies, that continues until at least age 25. By that point you’ve theoretically been “adult” for 7 years. Or perhaps then one would be a twadult? Hmmm.
The term is widely used by the marketing folks who discovered a niche for a wide variety of products. This is my main objection. The tween term seems to have it’s main use in marketing. I’m strongly against marketing to children, who, after all, still are developing their critical thinking skills and have less ability to see the line of garbage they’re fed by those who see them with dollar signs only. Am I angry? You bet.
According to Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, a tween is a hobbit between the ages of 20 and 32. Better origin, but still not particularly useful when describing my boys. I’ll stick to kids, thanks, and you can hold the advertising.