Ten tips for surveying children

Lauren NasirogluAssociate Director
June 07, 2017, 10:48 AM GMT+0

With children playing an important part in the consumer environment, many marketers want to gain a greater understanding of their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours.

Our Children’s Omnibus can help get kids’ perspectives on a range of subjects from what they think about school or their future careers, to where they eat dinner or what they would do if they won the lottery. It reaches children between the ages of six and 15 and allows brands, media companies, charities, and PR agencies to get kids’ real opinions without relying on second-hand parental reports.

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However, when surveying young people, it’s important to remember that questions and topics need to be age-appropriate and handled with sensitivity. While our experienced researchers will work with you to get the most out of your survey, here are ten tips to keep in mind when carrying out research among children:

  1. Use clear language: Make sure the questions can be understood by children of all ages. If you are surveying across all age groups, the language should be as clear to six-year-olds as it is to 15-year-olds.

  1. Avoid jargon: Complicated words or definitions should be clearly explained and simplified so that nothing is ambiguous.

  1. Use images and colour: Visuals can help put questions into context, as well as making the survey more engaging, stimulating, and interactive.

  1. Keep it short: Answering surveys can be tiring, especially for younger children, and if it’s too long it can affect the accuracy of the answers.

  1. Give clear instructions: It should be immediately obvious to the child whether a question is single choice, multiple choice, or an open question where they are expected to type in their own answer.

  1. Avoid long lists: Lists that are too lengthy can confuse children and they might accidentally miss an answer they would have chosen if they had seen it.

  1. Use a consistent format: The survey should have a clear layout with space between the instructions, the question, and the answer options.

  1. Avoid negativity: Try not to use strongly negative words such as “hate,” “ban,” and so on. If required, try to use softer words such as “dislike,” and “avoid.”

  1. Exercise sensitivity: Unlike with face-to-face research, online methodologies mean we can’t see if the child is getting upset, anxious, or confused. This means precautions must be taken to make sure we aren’t asking children about topics which could be harmful. The topics should also be relevant for their age. For example, questions aimed at secondary school children shouldn’t mistakenly be directed to those in primary school.

  1. Get parents’ permission: Consent from a parent or guardian is needed before a child can take part. At YouGov, we make sure that the survey topic is clear to our panellists so that parents can make an informed decision on whether or not to allow their child to take the survey. This is also to make sure we are following the MRS guidelines of surveying children.

To find out more about how you can survey children contact us.