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The State of U.S. Kids: 2010 (Survey Results)

Kids have different opinions and different lives, right? But it’s also fun to find out how kids are similar and what they agree on. KidsHealth and TIME for Kids magazine did just that with a survey of 1,000 guys and girls from across the United States. We asked lots of questions; for instance:

  • Is it OK to text at the dinner table? (8 in 10 kids said definitely not!)
  • What grade would you give President Obama on his report card? (half gave him an A or a B)

Speaking of President Obama, soon he’ll give his State of the Union address. That’s when he tells us how the United States is doing. With our survey, we wanted to find out how U.S. kids are doing. That’s why we called it “the State of U.S. Kids”!

We asked different kinds of questions — some about how their lives were going and others about how they thought the country was doing, in general. You can take the survey yourself by clicking the link below. Note that you will be leaving this site to do so.


We also asked kids to show us what it was like to be a U.S. kid by drawing a picture. Would you like to take a look at a few?


Life Is Good, But Kids Worry About Money

Most of the 1,000 kids said their lives are going great, which is wonderful to hear. Here’s how it broke down:

  • Life is going great. (44.2%)
  • Life is going pretty good. (37.4%)
  • Life is going OK. (15.2%)
  • Life is not so good. (2%)
  • Life is going badly. (1%)

While school, friends, and families were all going well for most kids, only a few (15%) said their family’s finances were going great. The most popular answer was OK, with more than 20% of kids saying their family’s money situation was “not so good” or “bad.”

No big surprise, but school was a source of stress for many kids. For instance, 40% of kids said they worry a lot or sometimes about being popular. Tests and homework caused even more concern, with more than 70% of kids saying they were a significant worry.

What can a kid do? For help with school, find advice in When Tests Make You Nervous. If you are worried about your family’s money situation, you can get advice HERE. For worries in general, check out Worry Less in 3 Steps.

Hurray for Health!

More than half of kids said their own health was great, but they worry often about the health of a loved one. Nearly 3 out of 4 kids reported this worry. That makes sense — we worry about people we love.

In answer to another question, one 10-year-old boy said he admired his mom more than anyone because she has dealt with tough health problems. “I look up to my mom because she has had kidney failure and has been sick a lot,” he said.

But when it came to their own health, few kids worry about it much, if at all. And many kids said they spend a lot of time doing healthy things like playing outside or practicing for a sports or dance team.

But while some kids say they’re active every day, about 15% of kids said they never play outside. That’s too bad because that run-around time outside can be really fun and it’s a terrific way to get exercise.

What can a kid do? If you’re looking to get more exercise, check out It’s Time to Play and Be a Fit Kid.

Report Card Time

Usually, it’s the grownups grading the kids, but not in our survey. We asked our 1,000 kids to grade President Obama and the rest of the country’s leaders. The subjects weren’t math or English — they were judged on how they’ve handled huge national issues, such as the economy and the environment.

The kids handed out mostly B’s and C’s, but again money was on their minds. More than 50% gave grownups a D or an F for how they’ve handled the economy. In fact, if the President came to their house for dinner, 45% of kids said they would tell him to focus most on the economy. On a brighter note, most kids gave adults A’s and B’s for the education system and for “keeping the country safe.”

What can a kid do? On this one, you might think the answer is “not much.” But that’s not so. If you’re concerned about the environment, start educating yourself and taking steps to Be a Green Kid. If you’re concerned about other issues, you might want to Be a Volunteer. Not only will you help people who need it, volunteering is often a chance to learn more about important issues, such as poverty and homelessness. And no matter which issues concern you, it’s good to learn about Voting and how elections shape the future. You’ll be 18 before you know it!

Dreaming of the Future

It’s never too soon to think about what you might want to do as a career. The top picks for boys in our survey were athlete and scientist. Girls most often said they wanted to be teachers and veterinarians. And to prepare them for the future, most kids thought math was the most important subject.

The survey also asked kids what they would want if they could get one wish granted. Many wished for money or new possessions, but a number wished for future career success.

One 11-year-old boy said he wanted to be a famous hockey player. A 10-year-old girl said she hopes to someday own a photography studio that specializes in animal photos. And another 12-year-old boy didn’t wish for anything crazy, just a simple life. “I would like to grow up and have a family and be happy,” he said.

When it’s time to get a job, most kids said it was more important to do something that they enjoy (53%) than to make a lot of money. But what will that future world be like? Most kids predict that in 10 years the world will be much better (13%) or at least somewhat better (38%).

That might be why so many kids in the survey predicted fantastic things ahead for themselves — 65% said they “totally agree” that their futures are going to be great.

The future just might be incredibly great for one person, who happens to be a girl. Nearly all the kids surveyed (90%) said they expected, in their lifetime, to see a woman elected president of the United States. If so, someday she — Madame President — will be the one giving the State of the Union address!

Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: January 2010