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nib Parenting Survey highlights parents’ biggest concerns in raising their children

17 Jun 2019

Family parenting

We’re excited to release insights from our inaugural State of the Nation Parenting Survey, taking a comprehensive look into the concerns and trends facing parents in New Zealand today.

Among the 1,200 parents we surveyed, issues relating to device use and social media, quality of sleep, structure of school curriculums, and pressures around time available to spend with their children were highlighted as some of the top concerns faced by Kiwi parents today.

The potential impact of social media on children caused the highest overall degree of concern, with nearly half (45 percent) of respondents expressing either extreme or high levels of concern, and nearly 9 in 10 parents (89 percent) reporting at least some degree of concern on this issue.

With technology more accessible than ever, children’s device use was also commonly cited as a major source of worry for parents. The top three device-related concerns identified by the survey were; the amount of time children spent on devices instead of doing other things (74 percent), online safety (73 percent), followed by consuming inappropriate content (68 percent).

Parenting expert, Nathan Wallis says, “With restrictions on social media platforms minimal at best and the breadth of content freely and easily accessible today, it’s natural for parents to worry about what their children are being exposed to.

“With teenagers, it can be especially difficult to monitor their online activity. It’s critical, however, for parents to maintain an open dialogue with their kids to ensure they’re aware of the risks and are operating safely in an online environment - without invading their privacy.”

Quality of sleep was the most prominent health concern identified by parents at 31 percent, followed closely by diet and exercise (29 percent) and mental health (25 percent). Worryingly, these matters (coupled with child behavioural issues), were cited as areas parents most commonly felt a lack of support - either because they felt there was nothing available in their area, or they wouldn’t know where to start.

Findings also showed that while parents have many concerns relating to the health and wellbeing of their children, almost half (44 percent) of parents place less priority on their own health.

The question of whether New Zealand’s school assessment system is a fair evaluation of children’s intelligence and skills showed that parents were divided on their opinions around education. 32 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, while the same percentage disagreed or strongly disagreed. The inclusion of Te Reo Māori as a compulsory subject in schools also demonstrated a split, with 34 percent agreeing or strongly agreeing that it should be a core subject in the curriculum, while two in five parents (38 percent) disagreed or strongly disagreed.

The majority of parents (76 percent) were worried about the amount of time they had available to spend with their children to some degree. Of that group, 37 percent expressed ‘a moderate amount’ to ‘a lot’ of concern on this issue. Additionally, over half of all respondents (51 percent) reported that they felt some degree of pressure to keep up with other families - with birthday parties and holidays cited as the areas parents felt the most pressure.

Alongside parenting pressures, our survey drew out key insights around types of peer pressure parents were most concerned about. For parents with children over the age of five, peer pressure related to bad eating and exercise habits caused the most concern at 79 percent, followed closely by sex (72 percent) and the consumption of alcohol (71 percent).

Our CEO, Rob Hennin says, “Kiwi parents should feel a sense of solidarity. As our findings have demonstrated, regardless of the multitude of challenges you face as a parent, you aren’t alone. We hope it encourages conversation among parents and empowers them to seek help if they’re concerned about any issues impacting their child.”

We partnered with Nielsen to deliver the State of the Nation Parenting Survey.

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