Parents consider their kids to be their best friends. Happiness is the most important thing in life. Families are open about finances. Media connections bring families together. These are the attributes of the new global family.

Covering 20 countries, “The Global Family” found that families around the world are all markedly different from previous generations. Parents, kids and grandparents today, across every region in the world, share more in common and are drawn closer together by shared interests and embracing new value systems of tolerance and acceptance.

The findings revealed that:

There is a stronger sense of connectedness within the family, regardless of their shape or size, as familial relationships become increasingly tight-knit, despite changes to the traditional family unit. This connectedness gives kids a feeling of happiness, security, understanding and curiosity about the world around them.

  • Kids and parents are much closer in the past and many parents even consider their kids among their best friends.
  • This strong sense of friendship between parent and child is especially pronounced in Brazil and Poland while Mexico, Korea, UK and Germany are all above average.

Globally kids feel extremely or very close to different members of the family and extended family.

  • Mom is still the go-to parent and the one both sons and daughters feel closest to in 95% of the countries covered.
  • In 82% of countries studied we saw that fathers are more hands-on and spend more time with their kids than in the past.
  • Grandparents are providing increased emotional and practical support to their grandchildren and, in 60% of countries, they are considered the very closest. Kids in China are particularly close with two-thirds feeling very or extremely close to their grandparents. No matter how much they see their grandparents, kids want to see them even more. In the UK, for example, almost two-thirds of kids see their grandparents weekly yet say they’d like to see them more often.


Today kids everywhere are more grounded in their sense of what matters for the future than one might think. Universally, when it comes to aspirations for the future, happiness and finding ways of having a fulfilled life, rather than money, are what matter and education is key to this.

  • While the priority on education varies across countries, the importance placed on it, in most countries, extends to aspirations for future career success and parents wanting their kids to have fulfilling and fruitful careers.
  • There are some gaps between what parents and kids consider to be most important for the kids’ future:
  • Everyone agrees that being happy is the single most important thing in life.
  • After that, parents want to see their kids have a good marriage and they both agree it’s important to do well in school.
  • Kids place more importance than parents do on having close friends and looking good.
  • Overall, both parents and kids seek a balance of emotional factors with happiness at the top.


Families have a shared understanding and responsibility in money matters as great openness about family finances is part of family fusion. Kids are increasingly exposed to their parents’ financial concerns.

  • While the economic crisis in the last few years has truly been a global phenomenon, it plays out differently across countries as does the extent of openness and dialogue about finances.
  • Parents talk to their kids about money and finances at home the most in Brazil and Mexico while less than a quarter of parents talk to their kids about it in Korea.
  • This all shows that the decision-making process for families everywhere, across all categories and countries, is moving towards a more collaborative and democratic system.


  • Whether it’s via television, mobile or the internet, we’ve found that media connections bring families together and generate an even greater sense of closeness.
  • The six- to eight-year-olds of today are the start of a truly digital generation. While older kids had to push for access to tech gadgets at home, younger kids today are met with less resistance and the need and want of children to have these different media at the fingertips is becoming implicit for parents.
  • When it comes to communication, our analysis shows that different platforms are used by kids to communicate with each family member and friends.
  • Talking, either via mobile or a landline, is the #1 method in family relationships. Kids are also more likely to communicate with friends using social networking than they are with family.
  • The communications used by kids change as they get older. With parents this really only affects the level of texting which generally increases with age.
  • Top media used by kids for family members: mobile for mother, father and siblings; landline for grandparents; social networks for friends
  • Television plays an important role in how families spend time together and lead family leisure time in nearly 100% of markets studied while two-thirds of kids watch a movie at home with their parents. This co-viewing allows families to actively share tastes and interests in what they are watching together.

ABOUT Nickelodeon Kids & Family GPS – THE GLOBAL FAMILY

“The Global Family” is part of ongoing research focusing on what constitutes the notion of “family” today, starting with how it is defined and how this definition differs from the past. Research looks at the role of each family member and the relationship kids have with their parents and other family members and the internal and external factors that contribute to bringing families closer together or pulling them apart.

Sarah Dell’Aquila is a manager for Nickelodeon International Research and Insights.