As April showers start to fall, this edition of Kaleidoscope from the Brand and Consumer Insights Department at Nickelodeon Kids & Family focuses on kids ages eight to 17 and explores their attitudes towards helping, getting involved and making a difference.
‘Responsibility.’ ‘Teach.’ ‘Helpless.’ ‘Come together.’ ‘Have a voice.’ These are all words and phrases used by kids and teens to describe just how emotionally connected they are to the problems that surround them. Taking a look at the issues affecting them from both a personal level and on a global scale, we heard loud and clear that kids do care. In the first installment of a two-part report, we explore what ‘helping’ means to kids and teens and reflect on the responsibility they feel to take care of the community and world they live in today.
From classrooms to living rooms, kids and teens are constantly exposed to the problems affecting their communities and the world. Schools are taking an active role in educating students on issues such as war, the environment and poverty. And in the home, kids and teens are becoming increasingly aware of problems that affect them on both a community and personal level (i.e. the economy, job loss, violence and crime). Beyond conversing with parents, kids and teens learn about issues by watching the news and seeing commercials that focus on specific causes or organizations.
Kids and teens take pride in their ability to help with certain causes. Doing their part manifests itself in various ways, such as donating time or money, mentoring and recycling. Just the word ‘helping’ stirred powerful conversations about selflessness and setting a good example for those around them, especially with boys. For example, one boy in grade eight remarked, ‘Helping means to assist another without expecting any type of reward in return. We all need to help from time to time and shouldn’t need to always expect compensation for our time, especially if we are aiding those less fortunate than ourselves.’
Kids and teens are well aware of world issues, especially those concerning the environment. In fact, this is one area where kids and teens feel they know more than their parents. This is particularly empowering for them, as they often play the role of educator, happily showing off their knowledge and taking on leadership roles.
Kids and teens clearly see the importance of taking an active role in making a difference, with several of them saying that change and activism will start with their generation fixing what adults have ‘messed up.’ On a deeper level, they realize that making a difference now directly affects their futures and, therefore, they feel a responsibility to do something. This sentiment is more powerful among kids and younger teens. Older teens become skeptical about how much of a difference they can actually make.
According to respondents, the three biggest problems facing the world today are the economy (67%), job loss (65%) and war (60%). But, when asked which problems they feel they can help with the most, kids and teens said protecting the environment (64%). Because world problems are so overwhelming, it’s often difficult for them to feel they can make a difference. However, kids and teens state they care about the issues and understand they must ‘start small.’ A boy in grade four stated bluntly, ‘World problems are too big for me to fix.’ Therefore, they are actively searching to get involved in ways they feel they’ll see tangible results. This typically is easiest by starting in their communities and neighborhoods.
In short, we know that kids and teens care, but are their actions speaking louder than words? Find out next month in part two of this Nickelodeon Kaleidoscope report. For more information, contact Erin Miller at Kaleidoscope@nick.com
(Source: Nickelodeon Kids and Family Research, Jan. 09; Touchstone Research, Jan, 09. Quant Sample size: N = 500)