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Most parents think their kids have it better than they did when they were children

A survey asked parents to reflect on their own childhoods.

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Image of emotional little child have fun with his parents in entertainment game center covering eyes with toy balls.
(Shift Drive via Shutterstock)

If time travel were possible, two in three Americans would transport themselves back to their childhoods (64%), according to a recent poll.

The survey asked 2,000 parents of children between the ages of 5 and 18 to reflect on their own childhoods, revealing that what they miss most about being a kid are not having responsibilities (67%) and being stress-free (57%).

Over half also said they miss their childhood friends (53%), having family gatherings (52%) and celebrating the holidays (52%).

What brings these parents back to their childhoods? Respondents listed watching their favorite childhood movies and TV shows (65%), the holidays (51%) and hearing certain sounds, such as ice cream truck jingles (48%), as the top three things that instantly remind them of their youth.

Conducted by Mini Brands Disney and OnePoll, the survey looked deeper into the nostalgia element, with three in four parents saying they reminisce about their youth "often" or "always" (75%).

A majority have even shared stories about their childhood with their kids (90%).

Additionally, two in three parents admit their kids' childhoods were much better than theirs (67%) because they believe their children have more opportunities in life (65%), more access to technology (57%) and receive more affection than they did as kids (56%).

Although 76% of parents consider their children mini versions of themselves, most of them credit their kids for making them better people (93%).

When reflecting on their youth, 83% said they’re glad they grew up in the era they were born in. A similar percentage think growing up in this era is much harder now than when they were a child (81%).

“We see the trend for nostalgia in toys to be more important than ever before,” said Robbie Mercer, marketing manager at Mini Disney Brands. “Parents are choosing toys for their kids that either they resonate with and remember playing with as kids, or want to find something that kids and parents can enjoy together.”

And when it comes to the holidays, 70% share that they feel nostalgic when the winter holidays roll around.

Parents say the mornings during the holidays are their favorite moments of the season since they see their kids play with their toys (60%), and it's also a time to watch holiday movies together (50%), make brunch (46%) and sleep in (42%).

The holidays are not complete without presents, as parents plan to gift their children clothes (74%), toys (55%) and electronics (52%) this year.  

With toys being a popular gift item, 61% of parents were not ashamed to say their kids had better toys than them growing up.

Still, four in five parents prefer buying their children toys they used to play with growing up (38%).

“Today's parents are seeking opportunities for more quality and meaningful time with their kids," added Mercer. "We believe in transcending generational gaps and allowing parents to forge their childhood nostalgia into new memories.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 parents of children 5 to 18 was commissioned by Disney Mini Brands between November 11 and November 15, 2022. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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