This month, LiveWire went on-line to talk to kids ages 10 to 13 about the things that concern them the most. Although some kids seemed preoccupied with tangible things such as athletic ability and looks, most of them had more sophisticated concerns. In fact, we were struck by how grown-up these tweens really are.
What we found:
The question of success
Surprisingly, the top response from the kids when asked to tell us their biggest concern about the future was ‘being successful in life.’ Nicholas, a 10-year-old from New Hampshire, went so far as to say that the most important thing in the world to him was ‘to be successful and have lots of money so I won’t have to worry about my future.’
Education and intelligence as the keys to success
Although the most popular career choices for our kids are ‘celebrity’ or ‘professional athlete,’ it seems that reality has already set in to some degree, as they also admit that the chances of being famous are slim. To realize their dreams of being successful, many of the kids polled take their schooling and their sense of personal intelligence very seriously. Half of them said that school grades are their biggest immediate concern. When asked what personality trait they value, the top answer for both girls and boys was ‘intelligence.’
Honesty is still the best policy
The issue of honesty in themselves, friends and society as a whole was another popular concern for the kids on our panel. Almost all of the kids surveyed claim to be honest and say that they have never cheated in school-or feel very guilty if they did, vowing never to do it again. When choosing friends, the kids on our panel value honesty over any other trait. Overall, they value the traits of honesty and kindness over popularity and coolness when choosing friends.
Social issues are a kid concern
Social issues, such as AIDS and race relations, are some of their biggest concerns. The kids are also concerned with global issues, like war, nuclear weapons and environmental problems. In the wake of the Columbine tragedy, fear of violence in schools is very much alive in their minds. With their deep interest in social issues, it’s not surprising to see that many of them want to better the world in a socially conscious field when they get older. A lot of our panelists desire to work in the medical field one day. Jess, a 10-year-old from New York, one of the many future veterinarians in the group, says that he would treat animals ‘even if people couldn’t afford it.’
Religion is surprisingly important to tweens
Another interesting finding involved kids and their religious beliefs. Surprisingly, in our increasingly secular society, many tweens in our panel showed signs of deep religious beliefs. When we asked the tweens what is most important in their lives-a question without any implicit religious overtones-many answered with the simple, yet profound response of ‘God.’ When asked to name their personal hero, several of answered ‘God’ once again. A few panelists even look forward to religious occupations when they get older.
What kids said:
LiveWire asked the panel to name the most important thing in the world to them. Their answers show that many took the question very seriously.
‘God. Because he loves me, and he made me, and he can fix me up whenever I do something bad.’ Skyler, 11, Oregon
‘My family, because without it I’d just be a hollow shell of a guy.’ Rory, 11, Colorado
‘My family and dogs, they protect me and love me unconditionally (especially my dogs, who don’t care how messy my room is or how long I am on the computer).’ David, 12, New York
‘Being myself, because if I do my part, the other six billion will do their part and the world will still go around.’ Brian, 13, Washington
‘Besides Jesus Christ, I would have to say my education. I want to go to Harvard, be a lawyer, have a great husband, 2.5 kids, white picket fence.’
Jessica, 12, Georgia
‘My family, because they take care of me and love me-and my go-cart because it’s fun.’ Hank, 12 Kentucky
Next month: Kids and music. Where kids get it-from the CD store to Napster-and how they react to its use in TV shows and promos.