Happiness Eludes Britain's Gizmo-Laden Early Teens

26 August 2004

The latest study from UK researcher Mintel International Group paints a portrait of pampered yet unhappy youngsters, isolated [or protected?] from the outside world by their electronic gizmos.

In its report Marketing to 11-14 Year-Olds, Mintel reveals that over three quarters of the sample have a TV set in their bedroom, nearly two thirds (64%) boast a personal DVD player or video recorder, and a quarter have a computer in their own room.

Sixty-six per cent play computer games in their rooms -- half of whom (33%) do so alone, leading Mintel to comment that a 'significant number of children are not experiencing family life'.

Three in five (60%) of the sample say that everyone at home is free to get on with their lives and interests. Over half (53%) also believe that as long as they study and do well at school they can do what they like. A similar proportion (51%) say that they like spending time on their own.

As proof that there is at least some degree of communication with the outside world, 80% of kids in the surveyed age group own a cellphone -- up from 58% in 2001. Girls are more gregarious than boys with 85% cellphone ownership versus 75% of males. Seventy-eight per cent say they use the mobile to call their parents whereas only 68% say they call friends

Texting is by far the main use of phones, with almost two in five (37%) having sent more than ten texts in the past week, and 14% more than twenty-five texts.

Kids' worries? Over half (55%) say they are worried about problems at home. One in four (25%) believes that their parents do not understand them and one in three (33%) that their parents do not trust them enough.

In their school lives, workloads worry as many as 83% of 11-14 year-olds, while even more (84%) claim to be worried about bullying.

Says Mintel consumer analyst Jenny Catlin: "Over the past few decades families have changed. Children may now have older parents, fewer siblings and many more live in single-parent families or step families.

"Sadly, it does seem that in many cases modern technology has now replaced the family unit, so that everyone does whatever they want, when they want, even if it means doing it on their own."

For more information on the study click here.

Data sourced from: Daily Research News Online; additional content by WARC staff