The marketing geniuses have recently come up with the term “tweens” to define the customer segment composed of young people ages nine to fourteen, or ages eight to twelve. This segment are neither children now teens, but rather in between, thus the term “tweens”. In America, it is estimated that there are at least twenty million tweens, and this market segment is valued at $43 million . Thus the marketing experts’ enthusiastic focus on capturing this segment.
For instance, industry giants like Disney’s and Nickelodeon continue to come up with products that would appeal to these tweens, who, according to researches, have developed sophisticated tastes beyond their years. Tween boys are attracted and spend on electronics, internet and video games, while their female counterparts gravitate towards fashion and things with social interaction elements. It is not uncommon nowadays to come across beauty salons and spas for tweens, where pedicure, manicure, and other such services are offered. Analysts even predict botox and similar nip-tuck services will soon be offered at these tween salons.
With these trends among the tweens, one can easily say that America’s tweens seem to be growing up too fast – doing things that were otherwise not yet allowed for children to do during the past decades. Instead of playing in the park or in the yard, biking around neighborhood, or enjoying the age-old girlie toys like dolls and homekeeping miniatures, tween girls now spend more time watching Disney’s Hannah Montana, or chatting online, or belting out songs from online streaming, aside of course from going to salons to have their nails and hair done, among other things.
Although seemingly harmless and no cause for alarm, this trend among tweens of America somehow makes us as profound questions among ourselves. Are we as parents contributory to this trend? Specifically, are we as parents, joining in the marketing scheme of retailers to promote this outbreak? I believe that the marketing schemes employed by retailers are primarily designed to capture the tween interests, who will consequently desire for those things and put pressure on their parents to buy. Ultimately, therefore, it is up to the parents to give in or refuse to their own tween’s pressures to buy or to have.
Critical in this would be the parents’ response, which would send strong messages to their tweens. Parenting has always been a tough commitment, much more these days and age when there is just too much going on. For tweens, particularly, who neither are kids nor teens, media bombardment of must-have stuff to keep with the rest of the pack press them strongly, which we as parents must be aware of and understand. Simply saying ‘no’ or ‘yes’ to their begging and sulking and crying is not enough for these tweens. According to well-known psychotherapist M.
Scott Peck in his book The Road Less Traveled, parenting must include disciplining the children as a concrete manifestation of loving them. He emphasizes that love without discipline is wrong love, but rather selfishness. In other words, since it is ultimately within the parents’ power to give in or refuse to the culture of materialism being sold to the tweens of America today, which unfortunately leads to their seemingly premature ageing, it is therefore important that parents set the rules and limits to all these.
However, it is also critical that such limits and rules be set firmly but lovingly, allowing the tweens to understand the reasons for these rules. However, the current trend in American families of parents having to work harder than they used to, taking double jobs if possible, has probably contributed much to the outbreak in tweens growing beyond their years. Tired from work, coming home for much-needed rest, America’s parents seem to find no time to spend on really talking things out with their children.
Invisible communication barriers have built up, which makes it altogether impossible to talk, which consequently does not allow understanding and disciplining at all. Eventually, parents just yield to tweens’ requests for this and for that, to prevent further dramas and arguments in their homes as these are unnecessarily keeping them from focusing on their precious jobs. With such scenario, we can say that, indeed, we as parents have been helping these marketing experts sell to our tweens, contributing to their growing up so fast. And if we continue to do so, who knows where all these will lead to?