Saturday 17 March 2018

Revealed: The nine-year-old’s view of life in modern Ireland

Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

CHILDREN feel less close to parents who work long hours, a survey has found.

Nine-year-olds also revealed they expect to feel peer pressure to smoke or take illegal drugs as they grow up.

A total of 120 youngsters and their parents were interviewed for Growing Up in Ireland, which is part of a larger study tracking the lives of 20,000 children.

Professor Sheila Greene, co-director of the study, said it gave youngsters the opportunity to give, in their own words, information on a range of areas in their lives.

"The design of this part of the study gives us a unique insight into the world in which nine-year-olds live and allows us to capture the diversity of children's experiences and circumstances," she said.

"The lives of children from all over Ireland, from different points on the socio-economic spectrum, and from many types of families, are represented in this latest research.

"They shared their experiences and concerns on everything from healthy eating and hobbies to their expectations for life in adolescence and beyond."

Researchers said key findings included:

:: Relationships between children and their parents were broadly positive, but youngsters felt less close to parents who worked long hours and were less available.

:: Parental separation had a considerable impact on children's routines.

:: Youngsters linked being overweight to eating unhealthily and not exercising, regardless of their own weight, and saw both cigarettes and alcohol as bad for you.

:: They predicted growing up would offer more independence and responsibility, but understood they might experience peer pressure to do things such as smoking and taking illegal drugs.

:: Ambitions for the future included being healthy, having a good job and staying close to friends and family - with the majority of boys wanting to be professional sports players and most girls wanting to be a singer, dancer or actress.

Growing Up in Ireland is a Government-funded study following the progress of almost 20,000 children and their families - 11,100 children participating at nine months and then three years of age, and 8,500 children interviewed at nine years and 13 years of age.

The study is being conducted by a team of researchers led by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Trinity College Dublin.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who launched its latest report, added: "The Growing Up in Ireland study is of critical importance as it provides a comprehensive and highly-valuable evidence base which can be used to inform and guide our development and delivery of targeted and effective programmes for children and young people."

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