State of the Nation’s Kids revealed

2014-10-31 14:51

Spiderman and Tinkerbell are more popular amongst our kids than Zuma and Gaga! Real-life famous figures take second place to fictional heroes, according to the results of the Parent24 Kid’s Nation Survey.  South Africa’s leading parenting website conducted SA’s first Kids’ Nation Survey in order to determine what our kids are really up to. The survey results reflect the views of approximately 2700 parents and their kids, from all nine provinces.

The Parent24 Kids Nation Survey looked at various areas of interest, including Food, Entertainment, the Future, Discipline, School/Care, Money and Elections. Questions such as “Does or has your child ever had an imaginary friend?”, “How often does your child throw tantrums?” and “What word does your child use if they swear?” were asked to dig deep into the psyche of our children.

“Parent24 provides reassuring advice, tips and insights for all parents. We decided to run the annual Kid’s Nation Survey to establish what parents and their children have on their minds and how our kids are really behaving”, says Scott Dunlop, editor of Parent24.

“We found the results of the survey intriguing”, he adds, “The diverse responses allowed us into the homes of SA’s parents and revealed some interesting, funny and curious insights.”

The full results have been presented as playful infographics and Parent24 interviewed some kids to get a better understanding of what they are thinking and how they are behaving.

To view the infographics and videos visit

A few interesting findings:

Food for thought

It turns out that broccoli is South Africa’s most hated vegetable and that 62% of kids eat takeaways up to 3 times a week.

“When it comes to feeding your child vegetables, presentation and variety may be the key. The greater the variety of nutritious choices presented to a child, the more likely the child will choose adequately. Children eating more take-aways on such a regular basis is a big concern as it has been shown that eating fast-food meals more than once a week is a major contributing factor of childhood obesity,” says Cara van Heyningen - Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach.

As seen on TV

23% of South African kids have their own cellphone or tablet.

“One of the biggest problems about having ready access to technology is that children are not developing their memory capacity. Even something as simple as the fact that most kids no longer need to remember things such as telephone numbers has weakened their short-term memory skills. This translates to serious difficulties with reading and mathematics”, says Catherine Radloff - Educational Psychologist.
“It needs to be noted that technology is not all bad and can actually benefit children on a social and educational level. However, responsible use is key.” she added.

The Future

Most parents (97%) think that their children will attend a tertiary institution. This is positive, but does not necessarily correlate with the reality of South African tertiary education. According to the Department Of Higher Education, only 15% of University students graduate. 2013’s Matric pass rate was 78.2%, but only 30% received University exemption. (


Most parents (41%) feel that reasoning is the best discipline, while a whopping 30% opt for a smack on the bum.

Educational Psychologist, Catherine Radloff had the following to say about this  “The fact that 30% of parents still think that smacking a child is an acceptable way to discipline children is a very distressing statistic. It can be tempting to think that a smack sorts out disobedience or bad behaviour in a child. However, numerous studies have found that physical punishment increases the risk of broad and enduring negative developmental outcomes. Smacking a child sets a bad example of how to handle strong emotions. It may also encourage children to lie or hide their feelings to avoid being smacked and can lead to a resentful and angry child.”

Knowledge is power

A staggering 78% of parents do not think that South African government schools are on par internationally. This correlates with the World Economic Forum report 2014 that ranked South Africa last (148th) for maths and science, and 53rd overall internationally.

Money Matters

The Parent24 survey found that most kids (75%) help with chores around the house.  According to Cathrine Radloff “There are a lot of developmental advantages to giving children chores to do around the house. Chores teach children how to become responsible adults, as it requires them to make decisions, stick to a routine, delay gratification and deal with frustration. Doing chores also enhances children’s self-esteem as they get a sense of accomplishment from doing something well. It also increases their independence as they gradually learn how to do basic things for themselves.”

Who got the votes?

When asked which personalities kids liked the most, Jacob Zuma and Lady Gaga came out equally unpopular, getting no votes at all. While Spiderman and Tinkerbell garnered the most votes.

For the full results of the survey and videos visit

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Parent24 is’s real-life parenting website, with over 370 000 monthly unique browsers on web and mobile. The site offers the latest parenting news and views from columnists, writers, experts and other parents providing practical tips and advice as well as understanding when things don’t go right.

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