A preteen or preteenager is a person in the stage of human development through childhood that is generally said to occur before the age of 13. Sociologists and psychologists recognize the Internet as the primary medium that defined and popularized the term "preteen." Based on Internet image searches using Google.com, 98.5 % of all preteens are female. Based on Internet image searches using Yahoo.com, the preteen does not exist.
While the range of the preteen years was vague when the term was first used in the 1950s, it is now clearly defined. The preteen years are identified as the ages from 5 to 12 or 6 to 12, or 8 to 12, or 9 to 12, or 7 to 12, or 8 to 13, 9 to 13, or 11 and 12. Although some sources claim a different age range. In women's gymnastics, the preteen years are extended, and range from 8 to 16. In pornography, "preteen" includes any woman who appears to be under the age of 23.
Preteen children have a different view of the world from younger children in significant ways.
Realistic view of present and future
- May have a fear of real world dangers like kidnappers, snipers and rapists who could be anywhere, as opposed to fantasy things (e.g., zombies, vampires and rapists who only hide under the bed).
- Have a more developed sense of looking into the future and predicting the likely effects of their actions (as opposed to younger children who haven't learned astrology).
- Have more realistic job expectations ("I want to be an engineer when I grow up", as opposed to "I want to be a zombie vampire rapist who hides under people's beds").
- Have a different view on morality and necessities, realizing that having the latest doll or toy is not a fundamental necessity, but having the latest High School Musical DVD is.
- Often have more responsibilities, such as mowing the lawn in summer, shoveling snow in winter, delivering papers in their neighborhood, and dealing drugs at school.
- Are responsible for younger siblings and relatives, becoming babysitters instead of being babysat, as well as getting younger children hooked on whatever drugs they sell.
Relationships and self-identity
- View human relationships differently, such as noticing the flawed, human side of authority figures such as parents, teachers and principals.
- Begin to develop a sense of self-identity, seeing themselves as superior to parents, teachers and principals.
- Have increased feelings of independence from ignorant parents, stupid teachers and power-hungry, idiotic and maniacal principals.
Romantic and sexual feelings
- Develop more mature, sensible, realistic thoughts and actions. Instead of falling in love with the Black Stallion in the movie, they may fall in love with the black stallion next door.
- Begin to move out of the "emotional playground," and experience more mature feelings of limerence, puppy love, or lust outside of the playground.
- Start caring more about their appearance by wearing fashionable clothing, jewelry including earrings, make up, micro mini-skirts, thongs and bikini tops (this also applies to girls).
- Direct sexual feelings toward a favorite celebrity. Unfortunately, for a preteen girl in many parts of the world this may be an obstacle in developing a healthy relationship with her current husband.
- May become more exposed to, and interested in, popular culture and trends than in childhood.
- Are a primary target of advertisers and marketeers who aim to get their hands in preteens' pockets (figuratively, of course), or, in countries where the average preteen makes less than the annual budget of Zimbabwe, their parents' pockets.
- In Western society, they become obsessed with pop culture phenomena for preteens such as Disney Channel, celebrities who are older than them such Jamie Lynn Spears and Miley Ray Cyrus, and movies geared toward preteens such as High School Musical and Zombie Vampire Rapist II.
- In Eastern society, celebrities who are older than developing preteens become more obsessed with them.
Psychologists on preteens
Sigmund Freud termed preadolescence the latency period, which he saw as a period of unparalleled suppression of sexual desires and erogenous impulses. Modern psychologists point out that Freud made his observations during the Victorian Era, which was a period of unparalleled suppression of sexual desires and erogenous impulses.
During Freud's latency period, children directed this repressed libidinal energy into asexual pursuits such as school, athletics, and same-sex friendships. He saw this as a time of relative calm when there was little psychosexual conflict, and unconscious conflicts and drives were "driven underground" and were therefore relatively inaccessible and unavailable. But soon puberty arrives, and the genitals, which were "the favorite plaything of healthy infants," once again became a central focus of libidinal energy.
Psychologist Hakim Bey and other 20th century psychologists found errors in Freud's analysis. A 1950s study by Focus on the Family claimed that preadolescence or "preteenhood" was not a period of latency, but was a period of unparalleled possession of sexual desires and erogenous impulses. For the first time, psychologists also recognized the existence of the pedophile. The connection between the two was not made until much later, and was not thoroughly documented until the invention of the Internet.
Modern psychologists such as Reverend Loveshade view the preteen years as a period of unparalleled expression of sexual desires and erogenous impulses. During this period, children direct this expressed libidinal energy into sexual pursuits such as school, athletics, and same-sex friendships. Contrary to Freud's thought, it is actually the pedophile who undergoes psychosexual and unconscious conflicts and drives that are "driven underground" and are therefore directed toward those who are relatively inaccessible and unavailable. Psychologists now recognize that preteens and pedophiles have a symbiotic relationship, and that each cannot exist without the other.
Tween is an American neologism and marketing term for "preteen". A blend of between and teen, this sometimes refers to the 10 year span between the young teen years of middle school, and the young teen years of adult websites . But it may also refer to preteens.
The term was previously used in J.R.R. Tolkien's 1954 novel The Lord of the Tweens in which it refers to Hobbits in their twenties: "...tweens as Hobbits called the irresponsible twenties between childhood and the coming of age at thirty-three." In this context, the word is a portmanteau of twenty and teen, and has no connection to preteens, the American marketing niche, or to this article. But it does explain the confusion of marketeers and parents who continue to try to force preteens to act and dress like young women, when they'd really rather dress like Zombie Vampire Rapists. The same applies to girls.
- New Oxford American Dictionary. 2nd Edition. 2005. Oxford University Press.
- Dobson, Charles.The Healthy Sexualization of Modern Children. 5th Edition. 2010. Focus on the Family Press.
- Freud, Sigmund."Genital Stimulation of the Human Infant" from Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie). 1905.
- Dobson, Charles.The Healthy Sexualization of Modern Children.1st Edition. 1952. Focus on the Family Press.
- Chan, Kuma. The Preteen and The Pedophile: Interdependence as Evidenced in the Nation of Japan. Pedobear Publishing. 2007.
- Levasseur, Maïthé (2007-02-09). "Familiar with tweens you should be...". The School for Preteen Familiarity of Yoda It Is.
- Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh Edition. 2003. Merriam-Webster.
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Fourth Edition. 2000. Houghton Mifflin Company.
- Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Tweens; The Fellowship of the Tweens Copyright 1965 by J.R.R Tolkien; Ballbuster Books, A Division of Random House Inc. SBN 345-24032-4-150
- *Myers, James. "Tweens' Definition of Cool: Zombie Vampire Rapist", Admap, March 2004.
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