Who our kids are influenced by is pretty important, and with the emergence of new technologies and the ever growing role of social media in kids’ lives today we wanted to see what the impact of this has been. So we spoke to over 1,000 children and their parents to find out how these heroes have changed over the years. 

Our research revealed that YouTubers, grime artists, and young activists are leading the way as kids heroes today, with Zoella, Stormzy, Greta Thunberg and Neymar sitting among the most popular heroes for under-16s. 

We compared this to their parents generation and found that the number of under-16s with musicians or actors as their heroes has fallen by 14% since their parents’ era, making way for the rise of YouTubers and activists. 

YouTubers like PewDiePew represent a new generation of childhood heroes.
Image source: PewDiePie at PAX 2015″ by camknows is licensed under CC0 1.0

Looking at their parents heroes brings to life a list of 80s and 90s legends! Superman was the ultimate childhood hero, followed by Madonna and Batman.

Whilst fictional characters and footballers have maintained their popularity across the decades, the meteoric rise of social media and the birth of the ‘influencer’ mean that the 2019 list includes a much broader range of talents. In fact, YouTubers and Streamers appear as the fifth most popular ‘type’ of hero today. 

The question then, is what impact do these heroes have on kids today, and is their access to them a good thing? 

The positive impact of heroes is inspiring children today to be more creative.

The short answer is yes. The positive impact of these heroes has shown the kids to have a desire to be more creative (47%) want to help people (36%) to make things (34%) look after animals (30%) and care for the environment (18%). 

Role models have also driven many under 16s towards developing existing skills – which is a huge positive. Clear influences are Harry Potter and Hermione Granger encouraging reading (39%) and writing (28%), football stars and dancers such as Ronaldo and Little Mix encouraging sports and fitness (27%). Interestingly, modern skills including video making & editing (16%), social media (15%), and coding (11%) also made the list owing to the creativity and prominence of social media stars including Saffron Barker, Zoella, KSI and PiewDiePie.

Here’s a look at the skills broken down by age groups:

And the best bit? Regardless of who your child’s heroes are, just having a hero has inspired 30% of kids to want to achieve more in life, to help them figure out what they want to do in life but also nearly a quarter of parents (22%) say that their kids are more confident since showing an interest in their hero, which is just awesome. 

Think you are in touch with kids today, can you correctly identify children’s favourite heroes? Take the test: Are you officially a grown up or a kid at heart?

About the research
Research conducted by PCP in September 2019 with a sample of 1,000 parents of 5 to 16 year olds

About Hoop

Hoop is a free app and website that makes it easy to discover what’s on for kids.

Started by a group of parents that regularly found themselves wading through parenting forums, local notice boards and websites to see what’s on for their kids locally, Hoop is now the UK’s #1 place to uncover new family activities. Download the app for free on IOS and Android.

Posted by:Celia Venables

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