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Targeting 'Tweens'

New education-related Web sites for "tweens"— children between ages 9 and 12—are opening their doors, giving that age group an alternative to commercial sites that are soaked in candy ads, pop stars, and silly polls.

The Alexandria, Va.-based Corporation for Public Broadcasting is financing the development of the five new sites, each on a different topic but with common features such as games and opportunities for preteens to contribute to the sites.

And the Web sites are grounded in research about preadolescents, said Roy Zimmerman, the education project development officer of the CPB.

The new sites—which will be linked to the Web sites of local public-television stations—smirk with preteen attitude, pop with animated graphics, and even moan and groan when a visitor blows a quiz question.

"Don't Buy It" ( uncovers how the entertainment and advertising industries allegedly dupe young consumers. For instance, on this site, based on professional advertising tactics, children can design a cereal box, picking colors, images, and slogans such as "new and improved." Or a visitor can watch an ordinary-looking girl be transformed into a glamorous model through tricks employed in the fashion industry.

"It's My Life" ( is about surviving family, friends, and school; it has games that give points for correct decisions in facing a bully or being home alone. That site also has a feature called "My Teacher Hates Me," which is designed to help children analyze their relationships with teachers and how they might improve them.

"Backyard Jungle," opening in July, will promote urban ecology and send preteens into their neighborhoods to find data to share with others through the site.

"Plastic Fork Diaries," to open in September, will cover nutrition and health.

Also due next fall, "3D & I" will help children unravel the mysteries of design in fields such as architecture and fashion.

—Andrew Trotter [email protected]

Vol. 21, Issue 33, Page 6

Published in Print: May 1, 2002, as Media

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