A new Nickelodeon research study, titled “The Family GPS,” reports that the generation gap is a thing of the past as today’s increasingly multi-generational American families are united by an expanding set of values and converging tastes. Released today, the Nickelodeon study finds that new cultural attitudes, technology and the current economic climate are drawing today’s American families closer together and changing how parents raise, and regard, their children compared to how their parents raised them. Nickelodeon’s “The Family GPS” study was conducted as part of an ongoing partnership with Harris Interactive in which the companies will study the changing face and role of the family in the U.S.

Key findings from Nickelodeon’s “The Family GPS” study include:

The Generation Gap Ends, and Family Fusion Begins

Today’s families are increasingly multi-generational—kids, parents and grandparents together in one household or in near proximity—and are closer knit, even sharing the same interests and tastes. It is a top priority to seek and create opportunities to spend more time together, preferably in the home, which currently serves as the main hub for free time as well as family life:

  1. · 83% of parents spend at least some time each week just hanging out and talking with their kid; and 86% eat dinner together at least once a week.
  2. · 51% of parents worry a lot about spending enough time together as a family, on par with their concern about their own or their family’s health (53%) and paying their bills (51%).
  3. · 76% of parents of 2-21 year-olds say they feel extremely close to their child today, while only 25% of grandparents reported that they felt close to their own child. Today, 49% of parents have one of their own parents living within 30 minutes from them; and 10% percent have a parent living with them in their home.
  4. · Today’s first-time grandparents are an average age of 48 (source: AARP), and have a central role in day-to-day family life. 61% of parents of 2-17 year-olds say the grandparents assist with raising the kids (source: Nickelodeon 2008 Family Study, OTX US data).
  5. · 56% of sons 8-21 years-old share the same taste in movies as their fathers, and 48% enjoy listening to the same music. 64% of daughters 8-21 years-old share a similar taste in movies as their mothers, and 44% share the same sense of fashion and clothing as their moms.
  6. · Technology serves as a core family member, as parents and kids spend time together using various media. 82% and 77% of families are watching TV or movies together at home, respectively, each week; 41% of parents and kids are listening to music together; and 36% are playing games together (source: Nickelodeon 2008 Family Study, OTX US data).

Changing Attitudes

Parents’ expectations and the values they instill in their kids are changing–particularly by gender: Also, kids and parents are becoming more accepting of differences in their communities, in other people and in cultures. The younger the generation, the more accepting they are. For example:

  1. · Parents of 2-21 year-old boys think the most important value to instill in a son is to be is respectful of women (70%). When raising a daughter, top values include self-sufficiency and an independent thinking (both 66%).
  2. · Parents have equal educational expectations for both sons and daughters, but it’s more important to parents of girls than parents of boys that their child gets good grades (92% versus 86%).
  3. · 18% of parents think it’s very important that they raise their daughters to be good wives; while 40% think it’s important to raise their sons to be good husbands.
  4. · 49% of parents say it’s very important to raise their daughters to be good with money, while only 31% emphasize the same for their sons.
  5. · 88% of kids believe that it’s important to learn about different cultures, and 95% of kids value the importance of respecting other cultures.
  6. · 88% of kids and 82% of parents believe that inter-racial marriages are acceptable, while only 70% grandparents agree with it.
  7. · 71% of 13-21 year-olds and parents believe it’s acceptable for couples to live together before marriage, compared to 62% of grandparents.
  8. · 65% of 13-21 year-olds are unopposed to homosexual couples having kids, compared to 57% of parents and 52% of grandparents.

Families’ New Economic Realities

Almost half of all families’ economic situations have worsened over the last year. Parents have opened the discussion about saving money with their children, and some kids are even helping out with the finances:

  1. · 85% of kids 13-21 say they have been impacted by the economic crisis, and 15% of kids 13-21 have witnessed a parent lose his/her job.
  2. · 51% of parents of 8-21 year-olds are now talking to their kids more about the importance of saving money.
  3. · 41% of 13-21 year-olds are now saving more of their own money.
  4. · 44% of today’s parents with daughters feel it’s the parents’ responsibility to pay for their child’s wedding, while 74% of grandparents with daughters said it was their responsibility to assume the costs for their own kids.
  5. · More than one third (38%) of 13-21 year-olds say they have to buy certain things with their own money that they didn’t have to before.

“The Family GPS” study was fielded between July and August 2009 through online interviews (by Harris Interactive) with 1,010 U.S. grandparents, 1,880 U.S. parents with kids 2-21, and more than 2,100 U.S. 8-21 year-olds.

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