Children survey: staying up late will be the best thing about being a grown-up

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
November 21, 2016, 1:27 PM GMT+0

New YouGov survey of 2,000 children finds they are most looking forward to pushing back their bedtimes, and are most apprehensive of financial responsibility

“I can’t wait ‘til I grow up so I can…” It’s a popular refrain among children, and one that underlines one of the great tragedies of being a child – that they don’t realise how lucky they are to still be a child.

Short ‘working’ days spent with friends, long holidays, no financial responsibilities, dinner cooked for you every evening – despite the now-obvious advantages of being young, children still yearn for adulthood.

Now a new YouGov Kids Omnibus can reveal what exactly about adulthood children are most looking forward to.

As far as the kids are concerned, being able to choose your own bed time is the biggest advantage of being an adult. More than half of children (55%) included this in their list of the best things about being an adult – it was also identified by 18% of children as the single best thing about being an adult.

Other top benefits of being an adult are having the freedom to visit friends whenever they want (50%), getting their own home that they can decorate as they wish (46%) and being able to choose their own job (45%).

In terms of the worst things about being an adult, children seem braced for an onslaught of financial responsibilities. Having to pay bills was the most commonly identified downside of adulthood, with nearly two thirds of children (64%) including this in their list. Having to be responsible for their own money came in second at 40%, whilst the need to earn money – i.e. going to work – came in third at 39%.

Separating the children into teenagers (13-15) and younger children (8-12) reveals which adult activities kids lose interest in as they approach adulthood themselves, and which they start looking forward to more.

Children seem to become less interested in the prospect of buying their own pet as they get older – just 30% of teenagers think this is one of the best things about being an adult, compared to 46% of younger children. They become similarly less excited about the prospect of staying up late (down to 46% from 61%) – presumably because their bed times have gotten progressively later by this point and the magic of the post-9pm period has worn off.

On the other hand, they become more tantalised by the prospect of being able to get out from under their parents and out of school. Teenagers are more interested in getting their own home than younger children (52% vs 41%), as well as being able to choose their job (50% vs 42%).

Unfortunately for today’s teenagers, neither of these two adult activities are as easy as they used to be. There are record numbers of young adults still living with their parents, and the UK has a higher than average youth employment rate for a developed country. So kids, enjoy being a child while you still can!

Photo: iStockphoto

See the full results here

The YouGov Children’s Omnibus interviews a representative sample of children aged 8 to 15 on a weekly basis. To find out more about YouGov’s Children’s Omnibus, please click here.

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