LiveWire went on-line this month to talk to kids ages 10 to 12 about what they think is cool and uncool about being a kid. The results? The freedom they have to play and socialize is very cool, while the limitations they face as junior members of society are very uncool.
What we found:
Some answers were typical, and some were unexpected. Not surprisingly, kids told us tons about the joys of spending time with friends, playing games and summer vacations. But KAGOY (Kids Are Getting Older Younger) came into play as well, as an unexpected trend arose: Kids showed a substantial awareness of the responsibilities they will assume as adults. Many kids on our panel remarked that the lack of these responsibilities was one of the best things about being a kid.
The kids on our panel cited two types of adult responsibilities that they are glad to be free of. The first is time obligations-specifically, having a job. Coleman from California says: ‘The coolest thing about being a kid is that you don’t have to go to work.’ Robert, an 11-year-old from New Jersey, says: ‘It’s cool being a kid because you are doing kid stuff like playing sports and hanging out with friends. You don’t get to do that as much when you are an adult.’ Amanda, an 11-year-old from Wisconsin, agrees: ‘I don’t have to have a job like a grown up. I get to go to the mall and movies and do fun things with my friends.’
The second type of adult responsibility our kids can do without has to do with financial obligations. A number of panelists said the coolest thing about being a kid is being free of the monetary responsibilities they often see their parents dealing with. ‘I don’t have to support myself, pay bills and taxes,’ says Cori, a 12-year-old from Ohio. Many kids also hinted at enjoying the double play of increasing amounts of pocket money and low financial obligations.
But kids also acknowledge that they aren’t free from all responsibilities: School plays a very time-consuming role in their lives. Interestingly though, they don’t necessarily shy away from this. As a group, the panelists showed a good deal of enthusiasm towards school. Catherine, an 11-year-old from California, says it well: ‘The coolest thing about being a kid is going to school. You can learn everything-history, math, science, reading, spelling, English and computers.’
What kids said:
What’s not so cool?
Being a kid is not all fun and games. Most of our panelists’ complaints focused on areas where they lacked autonomy and independence. Overall, kids want to be able to make more choices, to be listened to more often, and to be taken seriously by adults. Here’s what they had to say:
‘The worst thing about being a kid is that you can’t drive, you can’t be yourself. You can’t eat what you want to, watch what you want, or go to bed when you want.’ Hannah, 10, Arizona
‘People don’t listen to you because they don’t think you have the wisdom or experience to have valid ideas.’ Ben, 12, California
‘The worst thing about being a kid is having adults look down on us, as if our opinion is less valuable-being looked at like we are going to cause trouble or be irresponsible.’ Logan, 12, California
‘I don’t like that I don’t get to set the rules about stuff like bedtime, dinner and chores around the house.’ Max, 11, Wisconsin
‘The worst thing is having to do dumb chores-it takes all day! My mom fusses at me about it all the time. I also don’t like having to listen to my brother’s dumb CDs.’ Catherine, 11, California
‘The worst thing is being treated like a kid. Like when you call the radio station `cause they’re giving away concert tickets and they can’t give them to you because you’re not 18!’ Ashley, 12, Texas
Next month: What matters most to kids? What are their biggest immediate concerns and concerns for the future? What are the qualities they value in their friends? Who are their heroes and people they trust to talk to about problems?
Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, investigates a wide range of issues in kids’ lives. Kid Think talks with kids via LiveWire: Today’s Families Online, a proprietary panel of more than 3,300 on-line families across the United States. Both Kid Think and LiveWire are divisions of Griffin Bacal, a New York-based communications agency specializing in the youth and family markets. If you have any questions or subjects you would like Kid Think to cover, call Paul Kurnit at 212-415-2992 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.