Adjustment of trendy, gaming and less assimilated tweens in the United States

W. Scott Comulada, Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus, George Carey, Lynwood R. Lord, Elizabeth Mayfield Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Youth transitioning from childhood to adolescence (tweens) are exposed to increasing amounts of media and advertisement. Tweens have also emerged as a major marketing segment for corporate America with increasing buying power.We examine how tweens relate to popular culture messages and the association of different orientations to popular culture on adjustment. A secondary data analysis was conducted on a marketing survey of 3527 tweens, aged 10-14 years, obtained from 49 schools using stratified sampling methods. A sample of children nationwide described their preferences on popular culture and measures of psychosocial adjustment. Using cluster analysis, we identified three main clusters or adaptation styles of tweens: (1) those who enjoyed gaming, (2) trendy youth and (3) youth less assimilated into popular culture. There were differences in clusters based on adjustment indices. Gaming and trendy tweens reported higher self-perceptions of being smart, caring and confident compared to less assimilated tweens. However, gaming and trendy tweens worried more about fitting in than less assimilated tweens. Gaming and trendy tweens also endorsed future goals and traditional values more strongly than less assimilated tweens. Trendy tweens reported the strongest positive feelings about substance use. Results suggest that for each method of adaptation (gamer, trendy and less assimilated), there are unique differences in adjustment that can impact the child's future. Parents and service providers must recognize the complexity of these decisions and be sensitive to the unique needs of youth as they move from childhood to adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-275
Number of pages13
JournalVulnerable Children and Youth Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Materialism
  • Media
  • Popular culture
  • Tween

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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