Tween Summit Reveals The Kids Are (Mostly) Alright

If you think teens are text-addicted sexters whose brains are being turned to mush thanks to technology and pop music, you didn't attend the Tween Summit on October 10, 2009 in Washington DC. USA Today reports "It's about girl power."

Nine-year-old Caitlin McDermott told a reporter: "We don't need men. We girls can do what we feel. We girls are as strong as boys. Girls can stand on their own feet."

An 11-year-old told Monica Hesse of The Washington Post: "We have more rights than other women around the world and we should use our rights to help others"

Another 11-year-old named Gabby Cano said: "Please stop polluting. We only have one world."

But it wasn't all serious business at the Tween Summit. Attendees were exposed to video games like "Charm Girls Club," made by conference sponsor Electronic Arts. Hesse writes:

The players frantically wave a Wii remote at the screen, where gorgeous avatars are busy styling their hair. The winner is the player who teases the virtual locks into the highest bouffant.

Empowering! Other sponsors included PBteen, Disney Book Group and Dove Go Fresh.

Plus, USA Today reports that the exhibit hall "had a definite tween flair, with lots of pink and purple balloons, a gaming lounge and pale pink sofas." Because you simply can't have a Tween Summit without pink sofas! Duh!

It's true that tweens are plugged in — a YouthTrends survey shows that 39% of girls played a game on a video game system in the past week, and 29% of girls gave product advice to parents in the last week — but that doesn't mean that tweens are frazzled. As Perri Klass writes for The New York Times (after speaking with Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington who is studying children and the media): "Parents are digital immigrants… children are digital natives."

Luckily, you get the idea that the positives outweigh any negatives. The Youth Trends survey shows that 52% of girls have read a book for fun in the past week. And when Monica Hesse from WaPo asked about sexting, a 14-year-old named Angelique Gaston said, "Ew," and then proclaimed: "That isn't what we're doing. The media bases ev-er-y-thing on sexuality."

A Summit For Tweens: It's All About Empowering Girls [USA Today]
At Girls' Summit, An Image Betwixt And Be Tween [WaPo]
18 And Under: Texting, Surfing, Studying [NY Times]