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A tween is a person who is between the ages of 10 to 12 years old. The term is often described in popular media as referring to a preadolescent (usually female) who is at the "in-between" stage in their development when they are considered "too old for toys, too young for boys". The word tween dates at least back to the late 1930s when J.R.R. Tolkien used it to describe that age of irresponsibility after teenage.
Tweens as a marketing demographic are defined as in-between being a child and a teen. They share some characteristics of teenagers as they are becoming them, such as, sometimes, changing bodies, growing interest in the opposite or same gender, etc., and they differ from younger children in that they are not, usually, primarily occupied with play. They are often going through a period of rapid social, physiological and emotional development. Along with the teen years, the tween years are a time of the most rapid and dramatic change in development since conception and early infancy.
The "tweens" were defined by J.R.R. Tolkien thusly: "At that time Frodo was still in his tweens, as the hobbits called the irresponsible twenties between childhood and coming of age at thirty-three."
There are currently 20 million tweens in the U.S. and they are projected to hit 23 million by 2020 (U.S. Census). Tweens are a highly diverse segment of the U.S. population. Non-whites will comprise more than half of all children by 2023, with nearly 40% projected to be Hispanic.