What matters to today’s kids – and how do they see the world?

Those were the driving questions behind The World According To Kids, our latest study of global children. For this project, we surveyed almost 6,000 kids aged 6 to 11 across 18 countries, conducted digital ethnography in 6 countries, and consulted with experts in the fields of child development and psychology.

We asked kids a simple, yet significant question: How would you describe the world in three words? The words kids chose most often reveal what’s on their minds as they think about the world at large:

BIG. Kids’ worlds are bigger than ever, in part because of their unprecedented access to technology. Globally, kids have access to 3.5 connected devices on average. While watching content is their favorite activity on these devices, they’re also using social media widely – 60% use at least one social media platform, with TikTok as their #1 go-to (41%), followed by Facebook (29%) and Instagram (24%).

FUN. For kids this age, fun and humor are central to their relationships. Fun binds families together. Kids’ top 5 favorite family activities are vacations, watching TV, watching movies at home, day trips, and watching funny videos. They connect with others through humorous content – 76% of kids say that when they see something funny, sharing it with friends is the first thing they want to do. When we asked kids what they consider friends good for, the qualities that rose to the top were making them laugh, playing, and doing silly things together.

BEAUTIFUL. Kids talked to us about the beauty of the planet, but a big part of the beauty they see is the love and kindness they experience from others. Kids describe their families as “loving” above all else. Mom makes them feel especially loved, while they appreciate Dad for playing games and making them laugh. While kids see the beauty in the world, they’re also aware of the problems. When we asked which charities they would donate to, their top choices were those that help kids, animals, or people who are sick. Many kids have taken action to make the world a better place – 62% have supported good causes in the last year and 41% have raised money for charity.

EXCITING. With their whole lives ahead, kids are excited about what they can achieve. This enthusiasm reflects their positivity – 43% feel happy about the world right now, compared to only 21% of their parents. They look forward to someday owning a home, getting rich, travelling, and working – as well as eating whatever they want and choosing their own clothes. Looking to their future careers, traditional professions like doctors, nurses, vets, and teachers remain popular, as well as newer professions such as YouTuber/Influencer and Coder.

INTERESTING. Kids are curious and want to learn. Most kids (87%) believe it’s important to study hard to get a better job when you’re older. In fact, “important” is the #1 word kids use to describe school, followed by “fun” and “helpful.” But that doesn’t mean that kids wouldn’t change anything about school.  The majority (89%) would want schools to teach more about friendship and kindness, indicating that they value school for life lessons as well as academic studies.

HAPPY. Kids have positive feelings about the world and are happy in themselves. In fact, virtually all kids (94%) say they feel happy (scoring 7+ on a scale out of 10). Despite the many challenges of the last couple of years, overall more kids claim to be happy than in a similar survey of kids in 2017 (91%). Their top 5 sources of happiness are spending time with family (47%) and friends (41%), followed by vacations, video games, and funny videos. Kids’ resilience also came through in this research. Three-quarters of those who experienced remote learning from home during the pandemic said they enjoyed it, or even loved it! They were as likely to describe Covid-19 as “annoying” or “boring” (46%) as “scary” (48%).

GOOD. Kids perceive the world as a good place – and a place where they can do good. They see the good in themselves and expect it from others too.  If kids were to describe themselves to someone they’ve just met, the top words they would use are “friendly” (42%) and “kind” (37%).  Kids are also willing to act towards positive change; 78% say it’s important to them to help people in their community, and 75% believe their generation can change the world for the better.

We know that kids aren’t oblivious to problems in the world – they have certainly had a lot to deal with over the last couple of years! They talked to us about all the things that are on their minds, from the environment to homelessness, from worries about safety to concerns about the pandemic. Despite this, their resilience and positivity equip them well for embracing their futures and making the most of life.

The world according to kids today is big and full of opportunity.