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TweenSpeak: the new branding language

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Shows how tweens, ie children between eight and 14 years of age, have developed a fascinating global language which combines icons, illustrations and phrases in a completely new way; the author calls this TweenSpeak, and it is used to communicate over the Internet when playing games in virtual worlds like Norrath, which is part of the EverQuest project developed by Sony. Gives examples of how this grammar-free language works, for example ?CU BACK L8ER? means ?Call you back later?. Outlines the BRANDchild study, which suggests that conventional language will be replaced by this language of numbers, catchphrases and icons. Moves on to the huge financial importance of the virtual worlds of computer gaming, avatars and real-money trading; the amount of time and money expended suggests that online game playing is addictive and constitutes an alternative reality, which can cause problems in real relationships. Analyses the different methods of online communication between tweens worldwide, the numbers of online friends made, and international differences: for instance, Chinese tweens are more likely to rely on the Internet for friends than are Americans.
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Keywords: Adolescents; Children (age groups); Internet; Language

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2003

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