Please see below recent childhood-related change
- What's New? - Childhood
- What's Changing? - Ageing
- What's Changing? - Education
- What's Changing? - Family
- What's Changing? - Youth
- Human rights advocate Pablo Casals urged humanity to “make this world worthy of its children.” However, Maria Popova warned that, today, as we face a world that treats some of its children as worthless, we are challenged like we have never been challenged to consider the deepest existential calculus of bringing new life into a troubled world and to decide: what is the worth of children, what are our responsibilities to them?
- Children can learn more than adults in a given period of time, and it is assumed that they can do so because new memories are quickly stabilised in the brain so that later information does not interfere with them. In adults, such stabilisation is thought to occur because of inhibitory processing mediated by a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which suppresses neural activity associated with any new information.
- Further reading:
- The emergence of childhood as a discrete period in a person’s development is now a well-recognised fact, but Philippe Ariès noted in the 1960s that prior to the mid-17th century, children were “mini-adults”. However, after that, a great change in attitudes and circumstances took place among the middle classes, where emotional intimacy was increasingly displayed between parents and children, which led to an idealisation of childhood as a magic phase of life, and a time of heightened emotional sensitivity. Psychological study has since borne this out, argues The Critic.
- In 2020, globally, 4.3% of children died before they were 15 years old. This means that 5.9 million children die every year -16,000 children on any average day, and 11 children every minute.
- Many studies seem to suggest that parents are less happy than their childless friends. Possible reasons include: time demands; energy demands; sleep deprivation (potentially starting a vicious circle); work-life balance disturbances and financial burden. The contrary argument may be about something far deeper than happiness: meaning. Parents tend to report having more meaningful lives than non-parents. Indeed, very few parents regret having children.
- Young children are struggling with writing, speech and social skills as a result of isolation during the pandemic, a study published by UK-based educational watchdog Ofsted, found. Ofsted warned that the switch to remote learning left "lingering challenges." Children locked down at home weren't participating in singalongs or story time - instead, many were focused on screen time. As a result, education providers note a lack of confidence during group activities. For babies and toddlers, providers observed delays in development of speech and response to facial expressions.
- The School of Life warned that, soberingly, despite all our advances in technology and material resources, we are not much more advanced in the art of delivering emotionally healthy childhoods than previous generations. The number of breakdowns, inauthentic lives and broken souls shows no marked signs of decline.
- Schools in 23 countries, with 405 million pupils, were still partially or fully closed because of COVID by the end of Q1 2022, the United Nations Children's Fund said. UNICEF estimated that 147 million children had missed at least half of their in-person schooling. Some vulnerable children, especially girls, had not returned to those schools that had reopened.
- Child labour in the agricultural supply chain is a persistent and concerning issue affecting 45% of children in agricultural households in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana cocoa growing areas. Companies such as Nestle have responded, promising cash incentives to cocoa farmers who send their children to school to help achieve their goal of 100% fully traceable, directly sourced cocoa by 2025. These incentives will be paid to farmers directly, independently of volumes produced. To qualify, farmers must send their children to school, prune cocoa trees, plant shade trees and diversify their income with other crops. Annual cash payments of up to roughly 20-25% of a farmer's average annual income will be delivered via mobile transfer, halving after two years. The scheme will be extended to all cocoa farmers who supply Nestle by 2030.
Traditional approaches to eradicating child labour have focused on educating farmers and increasing scrutiny of farming practices. However, such an approach fails to recognise the importance of improving the material conditions of farmers. There is now consensus that tackling child labour requires a systems-based approach focused on poverty reduction as well as education.
- Children growing up now will experience extreme weather events at a rate two to seven times higher than their grandparents did, according to a paper published in the journal Science. The Wall Street Journal explained that if the planet continues to warm on its current trajectory, the average six-year-old will live through roughly three times as many climate disasters as their grandparents, the study finds. They will see twice as many wildfires, 1.7 times as many tropical cyclones, 3.4 times more river floods, 2.5 times more crop failures and 2.3 times as many droughts as someone born in 1960.
- A report from UNICEF demonstrated how the climate crisis is already putting at risk billions of children – with virtually no child in the world being left untouched by the climate emergency. UNICEF ranked countries based on children’s current exposure to climate and environmental shocks, such as air pollution, water scarcity and cyclones, alongside their vulnerability to these events. The results were dire: half of the world’s children are already at extremely high risk of experiencing potentially deadly consequences of the climate crisis and the top ten countries considered to be at extremely high risk responsible for only 0.5% of total global emissions.
- For The School of Life, most so-called bad behaviour on the part of children isn’t that at all. It’s a desperately unhelpful, but in its way entirely understandable response to not having been heard for what they have not as yet been able clearly or diplomatically to say.
- Nearly 3,000 children lost parents in the 9/11 attacks, the bulk of whom lost fathers (86%). While many were too young to remember their parents, many now talk about their own resilience and how they try to keep their parents' legacies alive.
- Chinese authorities have cut children's online gaming hours to just 1 hour a day on Fridays and weekends only, as Xi Jinping's government tried to crack down on gaming companies that have become too big too fast for the state's liking.
- Chinese gaming giant Tencent Games announced that it would start using its facial verification system to prevent children playing video games late into the night. Since 2019 Tencent had been using camera-enabled facial recognition to monitor children who play their games. Device cameras are auto-enabled during play, and gamers are matched against a national citizen database held by the Ministry of Public Security. Under 12s are kicked off after one hour; 13 to 18-year olds get two hours. The move followed a nationwide moral panic about video game addiction among children.
- When the Covid-19 pandemic removed the safety net of schooling and employee-paid child care for working families, it impacted negatively the vast majority of working parents around the world. For example, a US national panel survey of 2,500 working parents found that nearly 20% of working parents had to leave work or reduce their work hours solely due to a lack of childcare. Only 30% of all working parents had any form of back-up childcare, and there were significant disparities between low and high-income households.
- Psyche notes that the idea that parents could regret their children is inescapably taboo. In an era of baby worship, it’s cross-culturally ingrained and glorified that all individuals, especially women, should want to have children. The popular ideology of ‘pronatalism’ promotes the idea that becoming a parent is the ultimate source of human fulfilment. Wishing to undo or redo parenthood is therefore unspeakable, a rejection of a person’s most natural and sacred role. Yet parents sometimes do have regrets about their children. Yet regret is a common, fundamental human experience – an emotional and cognitive state characterised by counterfactual thinking about actions taken or not taken.
- Psychology professor Alison Gopnik says children's minds are tuned to learn, while the adult mind is "designed to exploit." Gopnik suggests it would benefit us to get back to the child's mindset. For starters, children deal with a lot of new information, and traveling to a place you've never been might force you to do the same. She also suggests trying to pick up a new skill. Newness is key: "a new place, a new technique, a new relationship to the world, that’s something that seems to help to put you in this childlike state."
- A professor of psychology at the University of California argued in Aeon that human beings need special care while we are young and when we become old. The 2020 pandemic made this vivid: millions of people across the world took care of children at home, and millions more tried to care for grandparents, even when they couldn’t be physically close to them. COVID-19 reminded us how much we need to take care of the young and the old. But it’s also reminded us how much we care for and about them, and how important the relations between the generations are.
- Save the Children warned that the pandemic will lead to the biggest rise in child marriages in a quarter of a century and is called on world leaders to act. The charity said the economic fallout of the pandemic is pushing more people into poverty, with girls being forced out of school and into work or marriage. Around 12 million girls are victims of early marriage every year, but another half a million are now estimated to be at risk. Girls in South Asia are thought to be the most vulnerable, followed by parts of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Millions of children’s lives were put at risk by disruptions to health services brought on by coronavirus, according to the UN. In 2019, the number of deaths of children aged under five dropped its lowest point on record – 5.2m, down from 12.5m in 1990, but surveys by the UN showed that a majority of countries experienced disruptions disruptions to child and maternity services, along with malnutrition treatment and immunisation.
- The School of Life warned that, far from being carefree, childhood is often a deeply difficult experience. From loneliness to bullying, from feeling overlooked at home to being overwhelmed with school, there are a host of stresses and issues that children can struggle with. To help them cope – and grow into mature, well-adjusted adults – they need to learn to understand their emotional needs and find ways of dealing with life’s inevitable challenges.
- Helping children to connect with nature is key, as in recent years, a number of concerns have coalesced around the view that young people do not spend enough time outdoors. Health is one source of anxiety, particularly the rise in obesity and mental distress. Increased reliance on technology for entertainment is another. Evidence shows that the danger from road traffic, and fear of crime, have contributed to reducing children’s freedom, particularly the opportunity to play outside or travel to school unsupervised.
- Killing. Maiming. Abduction. Sexual violence. Recruitment into armed groups. As children across the world entered the 2020s, they were leaving behind a decade that cost millions of them their childhoods, their dreams, even their lives. Since the start of the 2010s, the United Nations verified more than 170,000 grave violations against children in conflict.
- What Can I Do When I Grow Up? is an introduction to the world of work for children. It sets out to answer some very big, fundamental questions about jobs and careers: questions that, because they look so deceptively simple, we often forget to ask. What exactly is a job? Why are there so many different ones? Why do some people get paid more than others? Why are most jobs so boring – and how can we find one we truly enjoy?
- Modern societies are very interested in tracking how children grow up. Gradually, however, the attention society pays to the maturation of an individual becomes ever less. For a few years, we still have a picture of some of the stages of psychological and emotional growth but these are much less precisely known, named and identified. We’ve got a diffuse notion that a 14 year old will be different psychologically from a 17 year old, but it can be hard to pin down exactly how and why. After 20 or so, the vagueness becomes overwhelming. Insofar as there is any kind of script of post-childhood development, public thinking concentrates on external, material matters: we track what e.g. someone gets in their university degree, what job they secure and how they progress up the corporate hierarchy.
- The New York Times warned of “snowplow parenting” - affluent parents who resemble “machines chugging ahead, clearing any obstacles in their child’s path to success, so they don’t have to encounter failure, frustration, or lost opportunities”. rather than stop trying to make everything perfect for their children and just accepting that children need to fail sometimes.
- Most adults probably want to see how a stranger acts in several different circumstances, before deciding whether someone new is nice, mean or trustworthy. Young children, however, are strikingly less cautious when making character judgements. They often show a positivity bias: a tendency to focus on positive actions or selectively process information that promotes positive judgements about the self, others, or even animals and objects. Yet children who are overly optimistic may unwittingly find themselves in unsafe situations, or they may be unable or unwilling to learn from constructive feedback. And in an era of “fake news” and myriad informational sources, it’s more important than ever to raise strong critical thinkers who will grow into adults who make informed life decisions. Psychologists investigate this optimism that seems to emerge very early in life to figure out more about how it works – and how and why it eventually decreases over time.
- Though a shaky peace agreement remains in place, rival sides from a civil war that tore South Sudan apart between 2013 and 2018 are rapidly increasing their recruitment of child soldiers and sex slaves, according to the UN.
- According to psychologists, children (in the US) today are more depressed than they were during the Great Depression and more anxious than they were at the height of the Cold War. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that between 2009 and 2017, rates of depression rose by more than 60% among those ages 14 to 17, and 47 percent among those ages 12 to 13. This isn’t just a matter of increased diagnoses. The number of children and teenagers who were seen in emergency rooms with suicidal thoughts or having attempted suicide doubled between 2007 and 2015.
- The School of Life believes who we are as adults is determined by events that happened to us before our fifteenth birthday. The way we express affection, the sort of people we find appealing, our understanding of success and our approach to work are all shaped by events in childhood. We don’t have to remain prisoners of the past, but in order to liberate ourselves from our histories we must first become fully aware of them. We therefore need to learn about how character is developed, he formation of our concepts of being ‘good’ or ‘bad’, the impact of parental styles of love on the way we choose adult partners and importantly, how we might evolve emotionally.
- Around the world, children are recruited into armed groups and forced into direct combat and support roles. Despite this being a violation of international law, reports from children, NGOs and the UN suggest that recruitment is increasing. Children that manage to escape or demobilise from these armed groups will often face marginalisation from their families and communities.
- For The School of Life, there are few things more appalling for the parent of a grown-up child than the realisation of just how much one has, over the years, deeply hurt the person one most loves in the world - and has done so out of nothing more noble than stress, self-absorption and profound stupidity. To compound the agony, children are not by nature inclined to extend time or complex sympathy towards their flawed parents; they need them to have been there at the start, and to have been sane, kind and gentle and can’t be expected to search too deeply for reasons why they weren’t.
- Society prizes intelligence. Geniuses are often viewed with awe and assumed to be guaranteed prosperity and success. Yet there is a dark side to intelligence. Many gifted children's childhood can often be unhappy. For example, Mensa is an international organisation founded in Britain in 1946 to nurture the country’s most intelligent people. However when an Economist reporter put out a request via Mensa to hear from gifted children and their parents, her inbox filled with emails, many of them anguished.
- The School of Life notes that technically, most of us leave school at 18 - an event that tends to be vividly etched in memory and surrounded by considerable ceremony and emotion. And yet, rather oddly, despite appearances, many of us in fact don’t manage to leave school at that point at all. In a deep part of our minds, we may still be there, deep into adulthood, not sitting in a classroom precisely, but in terms of how our minds work, as much stuck within the confines of a school-based world-view as if we were showing up for assembly every day – generating immense and unnecessary degrees of unhappiness and compromise for ourselves in the process.
- Events like the Children First Academy explore new models on how to create meaningful futures on a systemic level. Participants play a lot and allow themselves to be inspired and guided by children, figuring out in the process how children think, play, dare to try and learn continuously has been the missing ingredients for inclusive, sustainable and conscious innovations. The event resulted in the creation of a manifesto designed by children from 20 countries inviting adults to trust, grow, create and play together.
- The downsides of mobile-device dependency on mental health, especially for children, are increasingly well documented.
- Children who grow up without access to green space have up to 55% higher risk of developing a psychiatric disorder independent from effects of other known risk factors. Stronger association between cumulated green space and risk during childhood constitutes evidence that prolonged presence of green space is important.
- Many parents share photos of their children on social media from the day of their birth. At some point, their offspring become aware of this “sharenting,” and often they are shocked and unhappy about it, noted The Atlantic for the Atlantic. Some children are reportedly now laying down ground rules for their parents, insisting upon veto power.
- An Indian nonprofit showed how free childcare at work could help disrupt the poverty cycle. In India, urban construction projects lure workers and their families from remote areas. The children of those families often wander about work sites without proper schooling, nutrition, or medical care. As Quartz explained, one nonprofit helped these children by offering onsite daycare, in a template that could work in other developing countries, too.
- Parents who attempt to manage every aspect of their kids’ schedules, academics, and extracurricular activities get a bad rap. But helicopter parenting is a rational response to rising inequality, according to the new book Love, Money, and Parenting. Parents get pushier as opportunities for jobs and college admissions grow more scarce. Conversely, in more equal societies like Sweden, parents can afford to be more chilled out, noted Quartz.
- No one intends for it to happen, but somewhere in our childhood, our trajectory towards emotional maturity will almost certainly be impeded, believes The School of Life. Even if we are sensitively cared for and lovingly handled, we can be counted upon not to pass through our young years without sustaining some kind of deep psychological injury.
- In 1990, some 11.75 million children around the world died before reaching their fifth birthday. In 2017, advances in the availability of medical care and the lifting of large numbers of people from poverty cut that number to just 5.39 million.
- It doesn’t get easier with a second child, argued Quartz, claiming that parents experience an exponential increase in stress as they have more children.
- A study measured the effect having children has on a woman’s salary, across six countries. In Germany, after ten years, a typical mother was earning 61% less than she was before she gave birth. In America and Britain it was about 40%, and in Sweden and Denmark 27% and 21% respectively. Men’s earnings in all countries were virtually unaffected by parenthood. Cultural attitudes and public policy largely account for the difference, according to The Economist.
- Further reading:
- Harvard Business Review found that children’s emotional health was higher when parents believed that family should come first, regardless of the amount of time they spent working. It also found children were better off when parents cared about work as a source of challenge, creativity, and enjoyment, again, without regard to the time spent. And, perhaps not surprisingly, it saw that children were better off when parents were able to be physically available to them.
- A review in Norway compared our understanding on the relationship between parenthood and happiness. It found that people believe "the lives of childless people are emptier, less rewarding, and lonelier than the lives of parents," but that the opposite proved true. Children living at home interfered with their parents' well-being and a meta-analysis by the National Council on Family Relations looked at a more specific metric of happiness: marital satisfaction. It found that couples without children reported more romantic bliss. The difference was most pronounced among mothers of infants, while fathers disclose less satisfaction regardless of the child's age.
- Toys may have played a big part in human evolution. Our sense of play probably had a major role in shaping mankind’s most useful inventions, claimed Quartz.
- Further watching:
- Technological advances have enabled child sexual abuse material to be widely shared online. The US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has seen a major increase how many child sexual abuse files they review, with 25 million in 2015, compared with 450,000 in 2004. Digital Defenders of Children is a non-governmental organisation committed to ending child sex exploitation and trafficking through innovative tools. By creating solutions based on deep-learning and AI that are able to identify the most vulnerable victims of child abuse, law enforcement can focus on the most urgent cases.
- The latest cognitive research suggests that the decisive factor for children is learning from what parents do rather than from what they say.
- The World Health Organisation found that more than 90% of the world’s young people, around 1.8 billion children, are exposed to toxic air pollution today. That’s a ticking health time bomb for many countries around the world, warned GZEROMedia.
- In 1990, 12.5 million children around the world died before reaching the age of five. In 2017, that figure was just 5.4 million. Extrapolated over 28 years, this means that international and local efforts to improve the health of children have saved the lives of 100 million children.
- UNICEF offered life-saving treatment to 4 million children for severe malnutrition in 2017.
- Children are, in many ways, born philosophers, believes The School of Life. Without prompting, they ask some of the largest questions: about time, mortality, happiness an the meaning of it all. Yet sadly, too often, this inborn curiosity is not developed and, as they grow up, the questions fall away. TSOL's book, Big Ideas for Curious Minds, is designed to harness children’s spontaneous philosophical instinct and to develop it through introductions to some of the most vibrant and essential philosophical ideas from history.
- The School of Life points to a great paradox of parent-child relationships: if you take great care not to be frightening, make silly jokes, put on funny voices, pretend to be a bear or a camel – all so as not to intimidate, so as to be approachable, the way one’s own parents were not. It should be a recipe for reciprocated love. But weirdly, children rather like difficult people in a way, people they can’t quite read, who aren’t around so often, who are a bit scary. They hook us in – in a way the kind, stable ones never quite do. One loses authority by being natural, approachable, friendly, a bit daft, the clown who doesn’t want to scare. An even more dispiriting thought comes to mind. Love them reliably and without fear and you will be forgotten. Be distant, intermittent, often absent and deeply volatile, and they will be obsessed with you for life.
- The School of Life claimed that It isn’t difficult to imagine a privileged childhood: perhaps we associate the term with a swimming pool in the garden, holidays abroad, lavish presents and birthday parties – many of our ideas are plainly focused on money. However, a truly fair society would be one in which the degree of emotional privilege in circulation for all children (and adults) would became a national priority - and where an abundance of love, concern, and connection was adequately studied, encouraged and prized as the true ‘wealth’ it is.
- If the move to digital learning continues, children will spend much, if not most, of their waking hours in front of screens, warned Aeon. They will use apps before they go to school, spend their days in front of computers, do their homework online, and then entertain themselves with digital media. Children are losing opportunities to experience the world in all its richness. Screens drain the vitality from many educational experiences that could be better done in the flesh.
- The unfolding global migration crisis that will have lasting effects on millions. “The unexpected forcible separation from your parents is worse than the ravages of being in a war zone, or being a victim of oppression, or living in deep poverty,” the director of the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard, told Quartz.
- A case was made for directing more resources towards small children. Quartz claimed that science shows that individuals who get better support when young grow up to be more smart, successful, and emotionally balanced.
Chocolate is, for most of us, a guilty pleasure, noted Raconteur. Yet for thousands of children in the cocoa fields of West Africa, chocolate is a source not of pleasure but of hard, sometimes hazardous, work. The link between child labour and chocolate is a long-standing one. Reports of under-age minors being made to work in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and other cocoa-producing countries date back two decades or more. According to the 2018 Cocoa Barometer, a report by 15 European non-profit organisations, as many as 2.1 million child labourers are working in West Africa alone.
The evolution of the human brain is one of the wonders of nature, but a philosopher of science Peter Godfrey-Smith asked recently what if intelligent life on Earth evolved not once, but twice? He wondered how the octopus - a solitary creature - became so smart and traced the story from single-celled organism 3.8 billion years ago to the development of cephalopod consciousness, casting new light on the octopus mind. In the process, he drew a contrast between the spotlight mind of adults vs. the lantern mind of children.
A role model is someone we admire and wish to emulate; someone after whom we want to model our lives in some way. When we choose our role models, we tend to choose people who are older than us or have more life experience. We look to people like our parents; our bosses; or people deemed successful by society’s standards, like world leaders, entrepreneurs, celebrities, or famous athletes. But who says role models have to be people we look up to? What if we could look down, literally speaking, to find some of the best examples of how to live? A recent Psychology Today article argued that children make some of the best role models.
The Designing for Children Guide was created by designers, psychologists, neuroscientists, healthcare specialists, educators, and children’s rights experts – during Talkoot, a 48-hour collaborative event in Helsinki in early 2018. The aim of this evolving guide is to refine a new standard for both design and businesses and direct the development towards products and services that have ethics and children’s best interests at their core.
According to Shaping Tomorrow, key current childhood-related trends include the following:
- The rapid rise in obesity among young people in Asia-Pacific is worrying because overweight children are at higher risk of becoming obese as adults and developing serious health problems like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and liver disease.
- Mines pose fatal risks to children and families in Syria.
- About 73.8 million babies will be born in the US this year, and the birth rate is ticking up by about 100,000 more babies annually for the foreseeable future.
- Child poverty in the UK is expected to increase significantly over the next few years so strategies are urgently needed to reduce poverty and to mitigate its impact on child health outcomes.
- Millions of children across the UK will benefit from the government's key milestone in tackling childhood obesity, as the Soft Drinks Industry Levy comes into effect.
- According to the US National Cancer Institute, 15,000 children and adolescents will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States this year.
- The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimated that well over 1 million children under the age of five may be affected by severe acute malnutrition in 2018.
- The World Health Organization experts have assessed that there are 43 million overweight children under the age of 5 and by 2020 more than 60% of global disease burden will be the result of obesity related disorders.
- According to the latest population projections, adults 65 and older will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history by the year 2035.
- The UK population is living longer than ever before with one in three children born in the UK today expected to live to 100 and by 2046 almost one in four people will be over 65 years old and over.
- By 2020, less than half of children in the United States are projected to be non-Hispanic white alone (49.8 percent of the projected 73.9 million children under age 18).
- Children in 62% of lone parent UK households will be in poverty in 2021.
- The aging of Baby Boomers means that within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history
- For small groups (two to 99 employees), most insurance carriers have one rate for childrenunder 20 years old.
- Large-scale AI application for prevention of obesity among children in Europe could save up to EUR90 billion over the next ten years.
- The current population of obese and overweight children in Europe is estimated to be nearly 33 million: If this population continues to be obese or overweight into adulthood, it could cost over EUR3000 per capita in direct medical costs per year.
- For Zanzibar, the TFR will decrease from 4.9 children per woman in 2013 to 3.2 children per woman in 2035.
- According to Infant Mortality Rates in Tanzania and Tanzania Mainland are expected to decline for both sexes from 43 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013 to 13 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2035.
- Just 37 percent of Americans believe children today will be financially better off than their parents.
- Efforts to reach a deal on the status of undocumented migrants brought to the US illegally as children could fail.
- A chart showing life expectancy mapped against number of children per woman for each country in the world shows that over time, most countries have moved towards the bottom right corner of the chart, corresponding to long lives and low fertility.
- UNICEF's The State of the World’s Children 2012 found that almost half the world’s children now live in urban areas. The report called for greater emphasis on identifying and meeting their needs.
- There is still so much to do: in recent years, around the world, an estimated 21,000 children have died daily; the International Labour Organisation, which estimated that over 100m children worldwide worked under hazardous conditions in the agriculture sector alone, has collaborated with other organisations to eliminate child labour; many children are still not getting the education they need and the UN continues to stress the importance of international vigour in ending the use of child soldiers and sexual abuse in conflicts.