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The portmanteau coinages kidult,[1] rejuvenile,[2] adultescent[3] refer to adults with interests traditionally seen as suitable for children. A kidult is also a person who is a kid at heart[4].

It can also have other meanings, such as a parent who enjoys being a parent due to spending quality time with their children, but is not willing to accept their more authoritarian role/responsibilities as a parent.[citation needed] An example is Robin Williams' character in Mrs. Doubtfire, a father who has fun with his children but is a poor disciplinarian and is seen by his wife as an irresponsible head of the household.

In the past, psychology recognized the concept of puer aeternus, or "eternal boy".[citation needed] Today, often called "Peter Pan syndrome", it means a person remaining emotionally at that of a teenager or even a child. It is derived from the traditional archetypal "eternal boy", Peter Pan.

One of the most well-known and extreme cases of Peter Pan syndrome and the kidult mentality is Michael Jackson. Michael explicitly stated that he did not want to grow up and he owned an impressive collection of arcade video games, toy cars and fantasy and sci-fi memorabilia.[5]

In the early 21st century, there was reporting that for an adult to have interests traditionally expected only from children is not necessarily an anomaly.[2] The entertainment industry was quick to recognize the trend, and introduced a special category, "kidult", of things marketable for kids and adults alike.[1][6] Enormous successes of films such as Shrek and Harry Potter,[7] of animated television series such as My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic the target demographic of young girls, of young adult fiction books traditionally targeted for teenagers[8] and the fact that Disneyland is among the world's top adult (without kids) vacation destinations[1] seem to indicate that "kidulthood" is a rather mainstream phenomenon. And unlike puer aeternus, "rejuveniles" successfully marry adult responsibilities with non-adult interests.[1] When Christopher Noxon appeared on The Colbert Report on June 29, 2006, he remarked that "There's a big difference between childish and childlike".

Karen Brooks explores what she calls the "commodification of youth": entertainers sell "the teen spirit" to adults who in the past were called "young at heart".[9]

In South Korea, the buzzword "kideolteu" was used in 2015, highlighting the market trend of increasing toy sales (such as drones and "electric wheels") to kidults.[10]

The term was first used in 1982 by Christopher Dick aka "Kleenex" on the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ in its campus humor magazine DUCKLIPS. It first appeared in the mainstream media (The New York Times) on August 11, 1985 in an article by Peter Martin.


  1. ^ a b c d "Kidult", Oxford Dictionaries
  2. ^ a b Christopher Noxon, Rejuvenile: Kickball, Cartoons, Cupcakes, and the Reinvention of the American Grown-up, 2006, (online book preview)
  3. ^ "Adultescent", Oxford Dictionaries
  4. ^ "About Us". The Kidult Life. 2019-10-30. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  5. ^ "Kidults, the adultescent market", Fameable, February 15, 2016
  6. ^ "Forty-Year-Old Virgins", by Tony Dokoupil, December 15, 2007
    • Quote: "So what's driving this rejuvenile movement? Marketing, mostly."
  7. ^ "Are you a Kidult?", The Guardian
  8. ^ "The grown-up world of kidult books", The Telegraph, 11 January 2003
  9. ^ Karen Brooks, "Nothing Sells Like Teen Spirit: the Commodification of Youth Culture" in: Youth Cultures: Texts, Images, and Identities, 2003, ISBN 027597409X, pp. 1-16
  10. ^ be, success (2015-11-30). "연말 유통 트랜드 분석, '드론, 전동휠' 아웃도어 키덜트 제품 인기".