In 2007, a Unicef report ‘An overview of child well-being in rich countries‘ ranked the UK bottom of a league table for child well-being across 21 industrialised countries. UNICEF UK commissioned Ipsos MORI to explore some of the reasons behind these statistics by comparing children’s experiences in the UK with those of children in Spain and Sweden. The report ‘Children’s Well-being in UK, Sweden and Spain: The Role of Inequality and Materialism‘ has just been published.
The report suggests that children and young people consider the following necessary for well-being:
“Time with those they love (friends, family and even pets); creative or sporting activities; being outdoors and having fun.”
They argue that these thoughts were spontaneously mentioned by almost every child they interviewed in all three countries. However, it also suggests that:
- UK parents struggle to give children the time they clearly want to spend with them.
- For many British children, by the time they reach secondary school, their participation in active and creative pursuits decline.
- Children from lower-income families in the UK had less access to stimulating outdoor activities.
- Parents in the UK found it more difficult than parents in Spain and Sweden to set clear boundaries for their children.
It also argues that whilst most children agreed that family time is more important than consumer goods there is a tendency within UK homes for some parents to continually buy new things both for themselves and their children.
This final point, amongst others, has been discussed by national media (external links):
- UK families face consumer pressure. (BBC, 14 September 2011) & Our children need time not stuff. (BBC 13 September 2011):
- UK children stuck in ‘materialistic trap’. (The Guardian, 14 September 2011)
- Cycle of ‘compulsive consumerism’ leaves British family life in crisis, Unicef study finds (The Telegraph, 14 September 2011)