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The first safety ad aimed at tweens released by the NHTSA

“Tween” is a relatively new term. In popular culture, “tween” is currently the label affixed to young people who aren’t fully children and aren’t fully teens. The behavior of these youngsters between the ages of 8 and 14 can fluctuate frequently between more childish approaches and more mature approaches. Because members of this age group are somewhat unpredictable in this sense, it can be difficult to know how best to communicate with them.

Parents, educators, advertisers and regulators all struggle to understand whether tweens should be spoken to more like children or more like teens. In the end, this balancing act is often a “trial and error” puzzle by its very nature. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently grappled with this puzzling communication quandary when determining how to speak to tweens about the importance of buckling up.

The NHTSA had never released a safety-related ad aimed at this particular age group before. It is possibly because it is so difficult to strike the right balance when speaking to tweens that the NHTSA opted primarily to speak to the parents of tweens during the course of the ad.

Parents of tweens are urged to “Never give up, until they buckle up.” This demand suggests that tweens may resist the act of buckling up, even after they are instructed to take this action. The ad emphasizes to the parents of these resistant young people that, “You're the driver and the one in control. Stand firm, just wait, and move only when you hear the click that says they're buckled in for the drive."

Source: KOB, “NHTSA ad urges parents to make sure tweens buckle up,” Kim Tobin, March 13, 2015

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