What are Today’s Kids Worried About?
The Influence of Teachers and Celebrities Grows as Kids’ Worries Increase About Violence and Society.
According to the 10th annual State of the Kid survey released today by Highlights, kids have a lot on their minds and they aren’t afraid to speak up. This year’s survey delved into topics that included who and what influences kids’ ideas and thoughts, and whether kids feel empowered to create a better, kinder world.
The results, garnered on the heels of a number of significant events that saw kids standing up and speaking out like never before, are reflective of their demands for change, which made 2018 a critically important year for listening to children.
Teachers lead an expanding circle of influence in kids’ lives.
The role of celebrities increased significantly during the last decade. But kids still turn to their parents first with a problem or something to say.
- When asked to name someone they admire or respect other than their parents, 25 percent of kids said their teachers–up from 17 percent in 2009.
- 15 percent of kids said they admire a celebrity–a noteworthy increase from only 4 percent in 2009.
- 72 percent of kids still turn to their parents first when they need help or have something important to say.
Childhood today can be hard, having its own share of worries, which are increasingly shaded by the impact of violence.
- 31 percent said being a kid is “hard/not easy.”
- 79 percent of kids worry.
- 16 percent of kids, it’s family, friends, and loved ones that lead their concerns.
11 percent of kids cite concerns about violence/safety, with 35 percent of those kids citing school gun violence specifically.
With these more serious concerns top of mind, the number of kids who worry about school and academic
- Performance has fallen this year to 12 percent (from 23 percent in 2009). This may indicate that kids are dealing with more “grown-up” worries than ever before.
But at the same time, we are raising a generation of upstanders who believe adults and the world at large care about what they have to say, and who take action when they see the need for justice.
- 90 percent of kids believe grown-ups care about what they have to say, and 59 percent say the world at large cares.
- When kids see someone doing or saying something mean, 93 percent would take action–with 23 percent attempting to stop it on their own.
- And when asked what one “superpower” they would most want to have, 17 percent of kids said they would use their superpower to help others.
- The attributes that girls and boys like most about themselves illustrate clear gender differences, and several significant shifts for girls during the last eight years.
- 19 percent of girls most value their own physical appearance (10 percent for boys).
- 26 percent of boys most value their own intelligence (17 percent for girls).
- The number of girls who most value being “caring, nice, and kind” jumped 6 percentage points from 11
percent in 2008 to 17 percent this year.
- The number of girls who most value being “creative and artistic” jumped 10 percentage points from 8
percent in 2008 to 18 percent this year.
Listen to a pod cast from Hightlight’s about this survey
While this year’s survey suggests that external influencers are playing an increasing role in the lives of children, findings offer positive feedback for parents because kids tell us they feel heard, supported, empowered, and loved.
Research also indicates that kids are paying attention to some worrying societal issues, but kids, even at a young age, believe they can use their voice and take action to change the world for the better,” said Christine French Cully.
Child development expert Jennifer Miller adds, “Today, it’s more important than ever that parents and educators keep an ongoing and open dialogue with children, staying close to the impact these influences can have in affecting their social and emotional development.”
Highlights surveyed 2,000 boys and girls across the country, ages 6 to 12, between March 31 and June 8, 2018, and in partnership with C+ R Research. The mostly open-ended survey was taken online, both at home and in the classroom. Gender and age of children were matched to U.S. Census statistics to ensure that results are from a representative sample of children.
To learn more and connect with Highlights, visit Highlights.com, HighlightsKids.com