How do kids keep their footing in an ever-changing world? How do they thrive?

Our latest global study, Kids of the World, asked these questions. To answer them, we spoke to almost 6,000 kids aged 6 to 11 across 31 countries, spending time with them as well as their families and friends.

What did we find? Kids today feel supported by family, friends and – for those who have them – their pets.

Family is at the heart of kids’ lives, no matter its shape or form. Whether blended, traditional or multi-generational, headed by same-sex or single parents, family is the biggest factor in a child’s sense of happiness and security. Globally, 70% of kids aged 6 to 11 named “spending time with family” as one of their top 5 sources of contentment. It’s also the #1 driver of happiness across this age group.

Friendships aren’t far behind family, however. While friends are always good for plain old fun, they’re also a vital source of support. Kids are aware of the value of having good friends – and, increasingly, the value of being one. In fact, 63% of kids aged 6 to 11 believe that being a good friend is the #1 factor that helps them fit in with other kids.

The way kids communicate with families and friends is changing fast. More and more of them have their own devices and social media accounts, allowing them to remain constantly connected to parents and friends alike. The end result is a more open style of self-expression, where kids share their thoughts, feelings and experiences with just a few swipes or clicks.

In addition to family and friends, kids also feel supported by their pets. They take pride in looking after them. They love to play with them. Sometimes they even tell pets their secrets!

With the support of family, friends and pets, kids are developing the confidence, kindness, openness and strength they need to navigate life.