What Kids Think

TIME For Kids and asked kids about life in the United States. Find out what they had to say.

February 11, 2013


On February 12, President Barack Obama will deliver an important speech to the American people and Congress: the State of the Union Address. In his speech, he will report on how well the country is doing.

But what about the nation’s kids? TIME For Kids and wanted to know how things are going for you. To find out, we took a poll. We asked thousands of kids ages 7 to 13 about life here in the U.S.* 

Things Are Looking Up

Do you see the glass half full? Many kids do. Four out of five say things are going well for them. And even more than that—96%—believe their future is going to be great. Nine out of 10 kids say that here in the United States, it is possible to grow up and be whatever you want.

Most kids already have a career in mind. Boys and girls told us they dream of becoming teachers, professional athletes, doctors, veterinarians and video-game designers. Overall, those who answered the poll think that enjoying your job and helping others is more important than making a lot of money.

Kids are also optimistic about our country. Four out of five say the United States is a world leader. Just as many kids believe that people all around the world respect America.

TIME For Kids and conducted a similar poll in 2009. Back then, kids were less confident in our country’s leadership. When asked to grade President Obama, only about half of kids said he deserved high marks for what he had accomplished. This time around, three out of five children gave Obama an A or a B.

What Worries Kids

Even though kids feel positive about many aspects of life, they still feel worried at times. In fact, from 2009 to 2012, kids say their worries have increased. Bullying is a concern for nearly half of all the children we heard from. This is a change from 2009, when only a third of kids said they were worried about bullies. “Bullying really hurts people,” says Autumn, 12, of Maine. “It should be stopped.”

Three out of four 7- to 13-year-olds worry about friendships and homework. Even more kids lie awake, concerned about family. If she could have one wish granted, says Anna Kate, 10, of South Carolina, “[I would want] to have my family safe and protected at all times.”

Family Matters

Kids told us many times how much family means to them. When asked who they look up to most, more than three out of four children selected a family member. Most chose their parents. “My mom is always there for me,” said Dalina, 10, of California. “I could go on and on talking about how great she is.”

For many kids, dinner is a time to spend with family. Nearly six out of 10 kids eat dinner with their family five or more times each week, while eight out of 10 do so at least once a week.

All in a Day

Dinner may be a good time to talk about the day and catch up with family. But many kids—at least one in 10—think it’s okay to send text messages at the dinner table. Almost as many say it’s just fine to text in class.

Just how much time are kids spending on their phones? About one-third of the poll responders say they use their phone 15-45 minutes each day. But some kids—one out of 10—admit to spending five or more hours on the phone on a typical day.

How much is too much? The answer may depend on whether kids have time for other activities. Most say they use the computer, read for fun and go outside to play every day.

Most impressive of all, nine out of 10 kids say they find time to help others on a daily basis. With that as a goal, it is no wonder that most children feel certain that in 10 years, the world will be a better place.

*This survey was conducted online from October to December 2012, among a sample of 5,212 children ages 7-13.

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