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No marketer should make the mistake of thinking that there is no difference between tweens and teens. The transition from childhood to adolescence is a big turning point — socially, mentally, physically and emotionally. Just ask any parent with children between the ages of 8 and 14.
"It also marks a turning point in online behavior," says Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst and the author of the new report, Tweens and Teens Online: From Mario to MySpace (click here to be notified when it is released). "Teens ages 12 to 14 go online more frequently than children who are 8 to 11, spend more time online and engage in a variety of online social and communication activities, such as instant messaging and social networking, that kids slightly younger have yet to grasp."
"Today, tweens' online usage patterns are more like those of children than teens," says Ms. Williamson, "but this will begin to change as they become more experienced online users at a younger age."
In the near term, eMarketer has identified four trends that highlight the online transition from tween to teen:
"The tween/young teen demographic group has great potential for online marketers," says Ms. Williamson. "They are forming brand preferences, and they have comparatively less skepticism about advertising than older teens and adults."
However, marketers must tread cautiously because there has also been great criticism of online marketing to children. While research by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 85% of brands that market to children on TV also market to them online, the use of many interactive tactics, such as games, to market to kids has been criticized on many fronts.
For more information on what to do, and what not to do, read eMarketer's new report Tweens and Teens Online: From Mario to MySpace. Click here to be notified when it is released.
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