The wellbeing and happiness of children centres on the amount of time they spend with their families, their relationships with friends and the activities they undertake, new research has found. (Irishhealth.com)
The research was commissioned by children’s charity, UNICEF UK, and focused on children living in the UK, Spain and Sweden. According to the findings, the message from children who took part was ‘simple, clear and unanimous’.
“Their wellbeing centres on time with a happy family whose interactions are consistent and secure, having good friends and having plenty of things to do, especially outdoors,” it said.
It noted that in the UK, parents struggled to give adequate time to their children, while in Spain and Sweden, ‘family time seemed to be part of the fabric of everyday life’.
The research found that the issue of materialism was complex, although most of the children who took part agreed that it was not a good thing for young people to be given everything they want. In fact, ‘spoiled children were universally derided’ and the idea of saving money for something or having to wait for it was ‘highly regarded’.
Interestingly, while children did not hide their desire for the latest clothes and technology, ‘most did not regard new toys, fashion items and gadgets as central to their wellbeing’.
“Most children agreed that family time was more important to them than consumer goods,” the research said.
However despite this, the researchers noted that some parents, especially in the UK, continually bought new things for their children.
“Most parents realised that what they were doing was often ‘pointless’, but seemed somehow pressurised and compelled to continue,” it pointed out.
The research acknowledged that by the time they reach secondary school, brands and material goods start to play a important role in how young people identify with their peers.
It added that more expensive brands seem to be more important to young people from poorer backgrounds, ‘perhaps as a means of masking financial and social insecurities and bolstering self-esteem’.
The research involved 24 families and 250 young people living in the three countries.