Washington, DC, November 10, 2021
A new FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll of parents of kids under 18, children ages 5-11, and teens (in this case considered ages 12-17) examines how parents and children alike are doing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey finds that American school-aged children largely have a positive outlook on their mental health, their ability to do well in school, and their home/social life. However, more express concerns with these areas of their lives when compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey was fielded just prior to children ages 5-11 becoming eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, offering a first look at vaccine perceptions among this group. It finds that children 5-11 have formed less of an opinion on the COVID-19 vaccine and that hesitancy is higher among this group compared to teens, where a majority report having already received the vaccine.
Additionally, teens and their parents are similarly in favor of mask and vaccine requirements in schools.
1. When asked about their home life, social life, and emotional state, most children age 5-17 are generally feeling good and are engaging with their peers.
- When asked to describe the emotions they are feeling today, both teens and kids 5-11 are mostly positive. Top emotions for teens are hopeful (31%), motivated/energized (26%), and challenged/tested, in a positive way (17%). Kids 5-11 largely say they are happy (80%).
- Just one in ten (12% for teens and 10% for kids 5-11) have not participated in a social activity like a play date, party, bus ride, or club meeting in the past month.
- Large majorities of teens describe their home life (95%), their relationship with their parents (94%), their mental health (90%), their social life (89%), and their sense of connection to others (86%) as good. Similarly, nearly all (96%) kids 5-11 say they feel good right now.
- A majority of teens indicate that their home life (62%), their relationship with their parents (61%), their physical health (56%), and their mental health (54%) are unchanged since the start of the pandemic, while pluralities say their sense of connectedness (47%) and social life (43%) are unchanged.
2. However, the picture is not all positive and there are challenges to overcome as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A sizeable number of teens say that their social life (29%), sense of connectedness (26%), and mental health (24%) are worse since the start of the pandemic.
- Nearly one in five teens are concerned about their safety when outside the home (20%), their mental health (18%), and their friend group (17%)— up from 12%, 9%, and 10%, respectively, compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Parents are more concerned about their teen’s safety outside the home (47% vs. 20%), risk of getting COVID-19 (41% vs 27%), mental health (34% vs. 18%), their friend group (27% vs. 17%), and ability to participate in extracurriculars (27% vs. 15%) than their teens are.
- The only aspect where parents (31%) and teens (25%) are similarly concerned is in the teen's ability to do well in school.
3. Education has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 narrative in regard to children. More teens are concerned about their ability to do well in school now compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, students feel their teachers and administrators do a good job protecting them from COVID.
- One in four (25%) teens 12-17 are concerned about their ability to do well in school, up from 17% pre-COVID.
- Nearly all teens (83%) and children 5-11 (91%) believe their teachers and school administrators are doing a good job at keeping them safe from COVID-19.
- In school, teachers and administrators are the most mask compliant. Majorities of teens (53%) and children 5-11 (58%) say their teachers/admins are wearing masks all the time, while 80% and 81%, respectively, say they wear them all the time/sometimes.
- Comparatively, other classmates wear masks less frequently. Roughly two in five teens (34%) and children 5-11 (39%) say their classmates are wearing masks all the time, while 71% and 75%, respectively, say their classmates wear them all the time/sometimes.
4. Children 5-11 have formed less of an opinion on the COVID-19 vaccine. Hesitancy is higher among this group compared to teens, where a majority report having already received the vaccine.
- Nearly six in ten teens (57%) say they have received the COVID-19 vaccine, with another 5% indicating they would if it were up to them.
- Children 5-11 are more split in their opinion, with roughly equal shares saying they are very likely (27%) and not at all likely (26%) to get the vaccine if it were up to them.
- Younger children have a harder time forming an opinion, with nearly one in four (23%) saying they don’t know if they would get the vaccine if it were up to them.
- Among unvaccinated teens who are not very likely to get one, concern over a lack of testing (45%) is the top reason driving hesitancy, followed by their parents (27%), and safety concerns (25%).
- Vaccine hesitant kids 5-11 cite their parents (26%) and concerns over a lack of testing (25%) as their primary concern.
5. Teens generally support mask and vaccine requirements in schools as do their parents.
- Majorities of teens 12-17 support mask requirements in school (62%), vaccine requirements for teachers and administrators (61%), and vaccine requirements for eligible children 12-17* (57%).
- Parents and teens are closely aligned in their support of mask and vaccine mandates, with 68% in favor of mask requirements, 60% in favor of vaccine requirements for teachers and administrators, and 54% in favor of vaccine requirements for eligible children 12-17*.
*At the time this survey was fielded only children 12-17 were eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
About the Study
This FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll was conducted October 25th to November 2nd, 2021 by Ipsos using our KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,509 parents of children 0-17. After the parents completed their survey, if they had a child between the ages of 5 and 17, their child was asked to complete a child portion of the survey. If a parent had more than one child aged 5-17, one of their children was randomly selected. If the selected child was aged 12-17, they were asked to complete the survey themselves. If the selected child was aged 5-11, the parent was asked to administer the survey to the child. The survey captured responses from 1,509 parents, 572 teens 12-17, and 689 children 5-11.
The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households are randomly sampled from all available households in the U.S. All persons in selected households are invited to join and participate in KnowledgePanel. Ipsos provides selected households that do not already have internet access a tablet and internet connection at no cost to them. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methods, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.
The study was conducted in English and Spanish. Three sets of weights were produced to ensure proper representation of the populations of interest, namely, (1) 18+ parents with at least one child 0-17 years old; (2) children 5-11 years old; and (3) children 12-17 years old.
The parent data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, household income, if they have child(ren) 0-4 years, if they have child(ren) 5-11 years, and if they have child(ren) 12-17 years. The demographic benchmarks came from 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) from the US Census Bureau with metropolitan status from the 2021 March Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS). The weighting categories were as follows:
- Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45+)
- Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other or 2+ Races Non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
- Education (High School graduate or less, Some College, Bachelor and beyond)
- Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
- Metropolitan status (Metro, non-Metro)
- Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)
- Has at least one child age 0 to 4 (Yes, No)
- Has at least one child age 5 to 11 (Yes, No)
- Has at least one child age 12 to 17 (Yes, No)
The child data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, age by race/ethnicity, age by Census region, age by metropolitan status, and age by household income. The demographic benchmarks also came from 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) from the US Census Bureau with metropolitan status from the 2021 March Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS). The weighting categories were as follows:
- Gender (Male, Female) by Age (5-9, 10-11, 12-13, 14-17)
- Age (5-11, 12-17) by Race/ethnicity (White/Other/ 2 or more races non-Hispanic, Black non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
- Age (5-11, 12-17) by Census region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
- Age (5-11, 12-17) by Metropolitan status (Metro, Non-metro)
- Age (5-11, 12-17) by Household income (Under $50K, $50K-<$100K, $100K+)
The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of parents. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points for children 5-11 years, and 4.2 percentage points for children 12-17 years old at the 95% confidence level. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.15 for all adults, 1.20 for children 5-11 years old, and 1.06 for children 12-17 years old. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on sub-samples. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.
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