January 21, 2007 / 5:16 PM / 13 years ago

Teenagers do grow more materialistic: study

NEW YORK, Jan 16 (Reuters Life!) - Parents’ fears that children become increasingly materialistic and less generous as they hit teenage years appear to be well-founded, according to U.S. research.

A survey by market researcher Harris Interactive found the majority of U.S children were materialistic with 71 percent of people aged between eight and 18 saying they would be happier if they had more money to spend on themselves.

Looking closer at the results, researchers and marketing professors found that teens (13-18 years) consistently scored higher than preteens (8-12) when queried on materialistic attitudes, and that older kids were also less generous.

When broken down by age, more teens (74 percent) than preteens (66 percent) agreed with the statement: “I would be happier if I had more money to buy more things for myself.”

Teens, meanwhile, were less likely (81 percent) to say “I like to help kids who are new to our school” than younger children (91 percent).

The age difference showed up again in response to questions on gratitude, with 92 percent of preteens having “a lot to be thankful for” but only 86 of teens feeling the same way.

But despite the desire for more money for themselves, families rated higher than money with “mom” important to 84 percent of those surveyed.

Aric Rindfleisch, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the survey showed that “materialistic young people display reduced generosity.”

“Although parents may be able to do little to squelch materialistic messages, they may be able limit the adverse effects of materialism by cultivating a sense of thankfulness and gratitude in their children,” he added in the report.

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