To help us keep up-to-date with what’s happening with kids, we’ve asked Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, to investigate and report back to us on a wide range of issues in kids’ lives. Since today’s kids spend so much time on-line, Kid Think talked with kids via LiveWire: Today’s Families Online, a proprietary panel of 600 on-line families across the United States and Canada.
Both Kid Think and LiveWire are divisions of Griffin Bacal, a New York communications agency specializing in the youth and family markets. If you have any questions or subjects you would like Kid Think to cover, call Bob Horne at 212-337-6410 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month, LiveWire asked teens how they feel about the future.
What we found:
The majority of teens on our panel said they’re excited about the future and optimistic about the approach of the new millennium. When asked to speculate on their personal futures, they expressed relatively traditional goals and stressed their need for independence. They want to make their own decisions and have control over their money. Our panel pointed out that this independence is very often associated with a career, and recognized the importance of a good education in achieving it.
Many of our panelists have already made their career choices. The top two professions were in the computer industry and the medical field, areas that these teens believe will experience the most growth in the future.
In addition to a career, an overwhelming majority of our panelists also included a family life and owning a home as future goals. Samantha, age 13, from Kentucky, sums up her future plans this way: ‘I’m looking forward to getting my college degree, having a fun, steady job, a loving husband, a nice home and my own family.’
The role of technology in their futures-in both a positive and a negative sense-was also a topic of discussion. They envisioned technological advances that would make their everyday lives more convenient. Cars powered by electricity, 3-D televisions and computers with the ability to handle virtually any task were just some of the ideas. It was no surprise to discover that the majority of teens believed the person who would have the most impact on their future is Microsoft mogul Bill Gates.
In addition to technological advances, teens also imagined cures for many diseases and hoped for improvements in the environment. At the same time, however, they expressed a genuine concern for the negative implications of technology. Many felt that increasing technological capabilities could eventually hurt society and illustrated this point with some very ominous scenarios. Sabrina, age 17, from Virginia, says she’s afraid ‘that computers will take over everything and people will lose control. Then they’ll break down and no one will be able to fix them because computers [will be] much smarter.’
What kids said:
About the innovations they anticipate in the future and the careers paths they plan to follow
‘Food pills would be good in the future. All I would have to do is swallow a pill and it would feel like I ate a whole dinner.’ Ryan, California, age 13
‘A car that [allows you to] punch in where you want to go and it automatically drives you there, and higher-tech machines, like robots and computers, that do a lot of work that people now do. These machines will be able to think just like a human.’ Tara, Washington, age 17
‘Cures to cancer and heart disease that aren’t available now. Cars will run without polluting the environment.’ Crystal, British Columbia, Canada, age 15
‘I’m looking forward to more advanced forms of technology because technology will hopefully make life easier. Cars that won’t pollute the environment, more computers in schools to make learning interesting for kids, alarm and security systems that will be foolproof so people can be safe all the time.’ Sara, Washington, age 17
‘I hope to find a job in astrophysics or computer engineering. I have always been fascinated by space, the stars and planets. Computer science is an expanding field and there will be plenty of career opportunities.’ John, Maryland, age 16
‘I plan on going into computer animation. I chose this because I love computers. They are basically my life, and I live on them. Ever since I saw Toy Story, I have been interested in computer animation and one of my main goals in life is to get into Pixar, which I will do if I put my mind to it. After all, if we think we can do something, we can.’ Stephanie, Alabama, age 16
Next month: Kid Think talks to kids about their spending habits.