Friday, June 18, 2010

Stealing Childhood

By Rachael Ashak Porter
Issue 133, November - December 2005

Have you noticed the term tween in print recently? Perhaps you've heard this age category tossed about on your local morning news program, or seen it emblazoned on a glitter-enhanced banner in the Juniors section of a department store. If not, hang in there's no doubt you'll see it soon. You may even notice a tag that's been created for very young children: pre-tween. What are we getting ourselves into?

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines tween as a child between middle childhood and adolescence, usually between 8 and 12 years old. The word dates back to the 1960s, years of marketing research reference it, yet what is remarkable is the more recent use of the term by American families. The burgeoning mainstream acceptance of this latest classification for children leads the public to erroneously believe that "tween" is an actual developmental stage, much as we have come to view adolescence as a specific and separate life event instead of what it is: the natural and indivisible progression of a child into an adult.

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