Moms and dads place a high priority on parenting and family time, and they have increased their time from previous generations. In 2011, the Pew Research Center found mothers are spending 40% more time on childcare compared to 1965, while fathers had a 160% increase over the same timeframe. According to Eli Finkel, a professor of psychology at Northwestern, couples are spending more time on ‘intensive parenting’, even at the cost of their own relationships.
While parents are doubling down on this commitment, very few teens and tweens consider ‘family time’ a favorite thing that they’d like to do on a weekend (given their choice). In fact, KidSay’s Trend Tracker, a nation-wide survey of America’s kids, found that only 2% of kids in 2013 cited family time as a favorite, ranking it #12 on the list. The most appealing activities for kids overall are hanging out with friends (#1), video games (#2, driven by boys), and watching TV (#3).
Terence Burke, KidSay’s VP of Qualitative Research, and Editor in Chief of Trend Tracker explains:
“We draw our findings from open-ended questions, so family time is a broad term that includes answers like ‘going shopping with mom,’ ‘going to the restaurant together.’ Girls, overall, are more likely to value family time, and Latina girls are especially family-oriented. Of course, kids like family time, but it’s not their favorite.”
Looking at the most recent KidSay information by age and gender shows that teen girls (ages 12-15) do rank family time the most highly, at #6, while family time doesn’t make the top ten for other age groups. Digging deeper into the data over time reveals that teen girls ranked family time as 6th on average from 2008 to 2012, and tween girls gave an average ranking of 5th .
Video games occupy the #1 position for tween boys (ages 8-11) and teen boys ages (12-15). Other popular activities for boys include hanging out with friends and a variety of sports (e.g., basketball). Girls rate hanging out with friends as #1, followed by watching TV as #2.
While it’s not surprising that family time is less appealing than spending time with friends, the very low levels of appeal for family time do suggest a big disconnect between the parent’s perspective and the child’s. As a tip for parents, it looks like watching TV together, along with shopping and going to the mall are ways for them to tap into some of the teen/tween girl’s favorites. When it comes to the boys, sports viewing and sporting events represent an opportunity for parents to connect in a low-key way. Parents and children will appreciate brands that develop creative ways to make ‘family-time’ more relevant to activities in kids’ top-10-favorites list.