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Forget too fast. Kids may actually be growing up too slow. Nickelodeon found in a survey of more than 900 kids that 85 percent liked the age they were. Rather than wishing for their lives as grown-ups, or even longing for high school, the 8- to 14-year-olds said they were happy exactly where they were at.
That's one happy cohort and an even higher rate of age satisfaction than Harris Interactive found when it conducted a similar survey at the turn of the millennium 13 years ago. Then, three out of four didn't wish to go the 13 Going on 30 or Big route—astounding results back then.
So what gives? What does it take to get kids to grow up too fast these days? It's not as if we're raising a bunch of drooling babies stuck in Barbie- and Transformers-land. Researchers say younger and younger kids are putting way their dolls and toy trucks, and picking up cellphones, laptops and other things once thought to be best introduced in the teen years.
The Los Angeles Times explains kids' happiness might be credited to the scourge of modern family life: helicopter parents. That is, moms and dads who oversee every aspect of their children's lives including, to the horror of many, the college and early career years.
Is anyone even pressured to go to medical school anymore?
Executive vice president of research at Nickelodeon, Ron Geraci, guesses that kids have it so good at home, there's no reason to long for independence. Moreover, thanks to a tough and recently disastrous economy, kids have seen that the real world can be tough, emotional and a pretty scary place. Making it on one's own hardly seems glamorous.
The new family life—the way kids are allowed to speak to their parents, the kind of input kids get on household choices, the ranking of kids' needs over all else—makes life at home, in one's own room (full fridge stocked with favorite snacks), stiff competition for shitty apartments and nightly ramen noodles. Parents these days are even nice! They want to hear, not just see, their kids. Though, they want to see their kids, too. A lot.
Kids and parents just don't fight like they used to. Parents want things for their kids—like happiness and work satisfaction. Is anyone even pressured to go to medical school anymore?
Of course, happy kid life might make for more relatable TV—which is why Nick conducted the survey in the first place. But adulthood has to come, eventually, and all this kid happiness could make for a frustrating transition. In a highly shared article in the Atlantic two years ago, Lori Gottlieb concluded in "How to Land Your Kid in Therapy" that the absence of rancor between parent and child—along with the immense support of parents and comfortable home-life—leaves kids with nothing to rebel against. No mountains to climb. No existential angst.
As kids they're happy. But as adults? Not so much. Maybe it's time to speed that growing up, after all.