by Staff Writer
The list of hot toys for tweens is different every year because kids ages 10 to 12 are quick to embrace new fads and the latest trends. Regardless of the year, however, the basic criteria will never change. Toys and hobbies for this age group must always be creative, cutting-edge, and fun. Toys that let pre-teens express themselves and show their interests are sure to be a hit.
Toys and books based on movies or television: Popular kids' television shows and movies always spawn a whole host of toys and books related to their plot and characters. Everything from video games to action figures to board games associated with a TV show or movie that your child rushes to see is likely to be a popular toy with this age group. Not sure where to start? Observe what your child watches (which you're probably doing anyway). You can even start a casual conversation about favorite shows and movies, keeping mental notes along the way.
The latest gaming systems: The bar continues to be set higher every year as video game systems become more and more advanced. Whether playing with a remote control and interacting with the television screen or furiously using thumbs to advance in a game, the golden rule with this age group is this: The more high-tech the game and the gaming system, the better. That means to be on the lookout for games with realistic sound and graphics quality, as well as a high level of interaction between the user and the game.
Toys on the go: It can be frustrating for kids who are not old enough to drive a car but who want to go places around the neighborhood on their own. This means the latest skateboards, scooters, or bicycles are a must-have for children this age. These are also excellent ways to make sure your kids are getting plenty of exercise. Be sure to budget for safety gear: Your child needs to wear a helmet and possibly knee and elbow pads. He should also be well-versed on rules of the road before riding.
Hobbies that encourage creativity: All children love to express themselves creatively, but a tween is starting to use this outlet as a way to define who they are. Arts and crafts are an excellent way for them to express themselves. This is also a great age for kids to start playing a musical instrument.
Toys that let them develop autonomy: Kids between the ages of 10 and 12 are learning to become independent individuals, and they are beginning to need more privacy in their lives. Girls at this age would appreciate a diary with a lock, and all kids would love a place where they can have some private time, like a tree house or a swing set with a club house.
Games that let them still be your kid: Tweens may be embarrassed to be seen with their parents in public, but they still want to know that their parents are available when they need them. Make sure you have plenty of games that you can play as a family. They may be developing independence, but they still love spending time with you, and nothing beats a night playing board games. Check the age rating on the game to make sure that it will challenge -- but not frustrate -- your tween.