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Only a small minority of children are carefree and many are bored

21 April 2009 Hertfordshire, University of

A UK study into children’s happiness and safety co-authored by a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire just released has revealed that only 11 per cent of children surveyed are carefree and free from worry.

Professor Karen Pine, Research Leader at the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Psychology worked with Intuitive Media Research Services to conduct research among 200,000 UK children aged 6-14 years and over 18,000 of their teachers in their social learning networks: and

The study, entitled Happy and Safe, which asked children how safe and happy they felt and what the Government could do to make their lives better, revealed that although 82 per cent of children said that they felt happy most of the time, with girls a little happier than boys and younger children happier than older ones, only 11 per cent are completely carefree and free from worry.

Over half of those surveyed (51 per cent) worried about their parents divorcing or arguing, with over half also worrying about violence and street crime.

It also emerged that 74 per cent of those surveyed cited boredom as the cause of their unhappiness – more so for girls (68 per cent) than for boys (58 per cent).

“Children’s well being should be the top concern of any society, and a good measure of well being is how safe children feel and how happy and fulfilled they feel,” said Professor Pine. “I find it surprising that over half of the children surveyed worry about their parents arguing or divorcing. This shows how, when marriages are going through difficulties, children are more often aware than many parents might think they are. A rather worrying finding is that such a large proportion of children said that boredom is the biggest cause of unhappiness – given that kids have such a vast range of multimedia entertainment and extra-curricular activities available to them nowadays.”

Robert Hart from Intuitive Media added:

“The children have told us that boredom is the biggest downer, along with adults who expect too much of them and having to work too hard. Children want more freedom to play, relax, pursue their hobbies and be creative.  Catriona, a 13-year old in GoldStarCafe,  spoke for her generation when she said, ‘The Prime Minister needs to seriously think about the amount of homework given in school. I've been really stressed about all the work I have to do, and one week I didn't even have any time to do anything fun at all.’”

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