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National Survey Reveals 62% of Kids Think Parents Are Too Distracted to Listen

Columbus, OH • Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A majority of kids (62 percent) say their parents are distracted when kids are trying to talk to them, according to Highlights magazine’s 2014 State of the Kid survey results, an annual survey that gives children ages 6 to12 a national platform to share their thoughts and feelings about major issues. For the sixth annual State of the Kid survey, Highlights polled 1,521 children – including both Highlights readers and non-readers – to gain their insights on parental distractions, school, and extracurricular activities.

Phones are a Major Source of Distraction

When asked what distracts their parents, cell phones (28 percent) were the top response, followed by siblings (25 percent), work (16 percent), and TV (13 percent). In total, technology – phones, TV and laptops – accounted for 51 percent of the responses.

Kids believe parents view their cell phones as essential. When asked what would happen if their parents lost their phone, answers ranged from “be mad” to “go crazy” to “get a replacement very fast.” Several respondents said losing a cell phone would be a good thing because it would mean Mom and Dad would have more time for family.

“Our intent is not to make parents feel guilty or to suggest that parents stop using technology,” said Christine Cully, editor in chief of Highlights magazine. “Rather, our hope is that these results encourage parents to find those few precious minutes each day to unplug and engage in meaningful conversation with their children.”

When it comes to finding focused time to talk to parents, kids say the best time is during a meal (33 percent), closely followed by bedtime (29 percent) and in the car (18 percent). They know their parents are really listening when parents look at them (56 percent), respond (28 percent) and stop doing everything else (11 percent).

Kids Are Excited About School—But Also Stressed

Most kids report feeling excited or happy as they head out to school in the morning (56 percent). However, these positive feelings decline as kids get older (48 percent of 11-12 year olds).

Despite these positive feelings, nearly half of respondents reported that they sometimes feel worried or stressed at school—a feeling that is more prominent among girls (52 percent) and older kids (55 percent of 11-12 year olds). Kids cite tests (33 percent) as a primary source of stress, followed by math class (17 percent) and bad grades (10 percent). These results reinforce findings from the 2009 State of the Kid survey, which showed tests/schoolwork as the top response for kids’ “biggest problem right now.”

When it comes to doing well in school, most kids feel that working hard is more important than just being smart—73 percent vs. 23 percent. There are slight gender differences in that 70 percent of boys cited working hard as more important than being smart vs. 76 percent for girls.

Kids—Particularly Girls—Have A Lot of Activities Outside of School

There is considerable debate among parents about whether kids today are overscheduled with extracurricular activities. Eighty five percent of kids reported being involved in one or more extracurricular activities, with more girls (90 percent) involved in activities than boys (80 percent) – and girls being involved in more activities. Overwhelmingly, parents and kids choose which activities and the number of activities together.

The complete 2014 State of the Kid report, including additional data, verbatim responses from the kids, and videos can be found at https://www.highlights.com/state-of-the-kid.

Methodology

The survey was fielded in April and May 2014, with the support of C+R Research, a leading market research firm with expertise in youth and families. A total of 1,521 children ages 6-12 completed the survey, including both Highlights readers and non-readers.

About Highlights:

Devoted to "Fun with a Purpose," family media brand Highlights for Children, Inc. (http://www.highlights.com/) has helped children become their best selves for generations. In addition to the flagship magazine, Highlights’ other offerings include a preschool magazine (High Five), an infant magazine (Hello), a children’s book company (Boyds Mills Press), puzzle book clubs and a variety of digital products.

For additional information about Highlights for Children, Inc., please contact Christine French Cully, Editor in Chief, at (570) 251-4508 or christine.cully@highlights.com.

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