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Newsround celebrates 35 years of broadcasting with survey on lives of children

Survey on real life in 21st century explodes modern myths on childhood


  • 1 in 4 don't count their fathers as immediate family
  • 74% like school
  • 62% feel their parents worry about them too much
  • Most want to play outside – not on their computer
  • a third want to help the environment
  • ...and they think Britain is a great place to live


CBBC's Newsround today unveiled the results of a survey commissioned to discover what life is really like for 21st century children.


The survey, conducted by Childwise on behalf of Newsround, interviewed 1,000 children in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales aged 6 to 12 and explores the key elements of children's lives including family, education, fears, the UK and the future.


Newsround's research marks 35 years of broadcasting as the only children's television news service in the UK.


Their lives


The Newsround survey suggests a surprising snapshot of children. Many children surveyed describe themselves as happy (78%), funny (47%), and clever (41%), and almost all feel ok with the way they are (91%), but revealingly a third (34%) would like to change the way they look, particularly girls (40%).


Their priorities in life are being kind, but interestingly excelling at sport is cited ahead of being intelligent, and being rich.


Almost all would prefer to talk to their friends face-to-face rather than online.




62% of children surveyed feel their parents worry too much about their safety.


A quarter of children avoid going out alone, with some hiding valuables and 2% carrying a weapon for protection.


Children feel least safe in the dark, but worryingly 12% feel unsafe on the street and 8% on an aeroplane.


Being bullied is what children are most afraid of, the survey suggests, but children now hold real fears about being stabbed or shot (10%) and worry about war and terrorism (6%).


Children are also concerned about crime (14%) and they share their parents' concerns on drugs (7%), pollution/litter (7%), terrorism (6%) and global warming (4%).




Mums are central to children's lives. When asked to describe who was in their immediate family 96% chose their mum, but one in four children did not count their dad as immediate family. This rose to 33% for C2DE children.


If something went wrong, most children would turn to their mum for help (76%) but only 11% of children would turn to their father.


Almost one-third of girls admire their mums, while a quarter of boys admire footballers. "David Beckham, he is a really good footballer and he has loads of money," boy, aged 8.


13% of children never eat together as a family. This figure rises to 21% in Scotland.


Children want their parents to stop shouting and nagging and to trust them more. "Give me more space, stop nagging," boy, aged 7. "My daddy sleeps a lot and I don't get enough time with him," girl, aged 8. "Stop shouting at me," boy, aged 12.


They are aware of what worries their parents – 74% of 9-12 year olds know what worries mum and dad including money, their children, family, jobs and safety.


56% of children would like to spend more time doing things with their parents.




School is central to children's lives and exam results are important: 78% agree that you need good exam results to be successful in life and 74% of children enjoy school.


Children in Northern Ireland enjoy school the least (61%) and have least concern about exam results (52%), according to the survey. However, children in Scotland and Wales enjoy school the most (80%).


Just one in five children think class sizes are too big or buildings are in bad condition.


Many would like to do more PE (particularly boys, 45%) and this is particularly high in Northern Ireland where more than half of children want more PE.


Most bullying happens at school. One in three has been bullied at school and one in five elsewhere.


The UK


Almost a third of children are keen to help the environment. Nearly a quarter say they would delay changing (upgrading) their mobile to help the environment and 32% of girls say they would give up some pocket money each week to help.


While many children are fed up with hearing about crime, 19% have said they are fed up with news about celebrities, followed by 9% who cited healthy living.


Most children think their childhood is better than their parents.


67% think that Britain is a great place to live.


If they were Prime Minister for the day nearly one in ten would stop school, while many children would want to stop life's bigger problems ie, poverty, crime, war and pollution. "Stop crimes, make prisoners stay in prison for longer," boy, aged 8. "I would not allow people to throw litter on the ground – keep the environment clean," girl, aged 7.


The Future


Children are, unsurprisingly, excited about Christmas and birthdays, but they are also excited about getting a job (13%), travelling (11%) and just growing up (6%). "Growing up, because I'd feel a lot more free, can do more stuff," boy, aged 11.


Tellingly, when asked about what they would like to be when they grow up, 38% of boys wanted to be a sportman or footballer, while girls wanted to either be a teacher (12%), hairdresser (11%) or nurse (10%).


Sinead Rocks, Editor, Newsround said; "Our research has given us a fascinating insight into the lives of children in the UK in 2007.


"In many ways it contradicts popular thought on what life is like for them and at the same time it throws up interesting questions about the relationships they have with their friends, family and other adults.


"As the UK's only news programme for children, Newsround prides itself on giving young people the chance to have their say on the issues that matter to them and we hope to be able to track the results of this survey over time."


Newsround's aim has always been to help children make sense of the world around them and to enable them to have their say about what is going on.


This research suggests that children are aware of disturbing news stories, which makes Newsround a valuable resource in enabling children to put news and current affairs into context.


Even after 35 years, Newsround is still as relevant today as when it first began broadcasting from a corner of the BBC newsroom back in 1972.


Newsround provides 36 programmes every week for BBC One, BBC Two and the CBBC channel, a spin-off Saturday sports show, daily radio bulletins, web updates, comprehensive backgrounders, mobile phone headlines and video on demand.


Newsround is available on BBC One, CBBC and online at


Notes to Editors


Newsround history


Newsround first began in 1972 with three members of staff who shared two typewriters in a corner of the BBC newsroom.


The idea for Newsround came from Edward Barnes who drafted in a young John Craven for what began as a six-week experiment.


Newsround alumni: Roger Finn, Helen Rollason, Juliet Morris, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Julie Etchingham, Chris Rogers, Kate Sanderson, Matthew Price, Becky Jago, Paul McDowell, Paul Welsh, Terry Baddoo and Justin Webb.


In 1986 Newsround broke the story of the Challenger Shuttle disaster.


Newsround today


Currently, 50 people work around the clock in the basement of BBC Children's HQ in White City.


Newsround is currently presented by Ellie Crisell, Adam Fleming, Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes, Sonali Gudka, Laura Jones, Lizo Mzimba and Gavin Ramjaun.


Newsround has more than a quarter of a million Press Packers; members of Newsround's online journalism club.


In 2007 Newsround has covered the Iraq war and reported on issues as diverse and hard-hitting as child poverty, the murder of schoolboy Rhys Jones and the case of Madeline McCann.


Newsround has won the Children's BAFTA for Best Factual Programme for the child poverty special The Wrong Trainers.


The Newsround team also make weekly spin-off show, Sportsround, which has been on air since 2005.


About Childwise


ChildWise is an independent market research agency specialising in research with children for over 20 years.


The company carries out surveys for a wide range of organisations, including government, charities, and commercial companies.


Their work is governed by the Market Research Society Code of Conduct, and conforms to strict standards when working with children.


The research method


1,000 face to face in home interviews


Boys and girls aged 6-12 years


England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland


Robust sample sizes for all key subgroups


Fieldwork weeks commencing 1 and 8 October 2007 .










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Category: Children's
Date: 03.12.2007
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