Surveying children: 10 tips to design effective surveys
July 3rd, 2023, Lauren Nasiroglu

Surveying children: 10 tips to design effective surveys

Many brands and organisations want to know what children think. They’re the future, after all, and it can be difficult to understand what they’re thinking and feeling.

Conducting surveys for kids and carrying out children's questionnaires requires a different approach compared to adult surveys. It's important to remember that questions and topics need to be age-appropriate and handled with sensitivity.

In this article we’ll cover:

The importance of surveying children

With children playing an important part in the consumer environment, many marketers want to gain a greater understanding of their thoughts, feelings, and preferences.

Young people are not only the future consumers; they are influential voices shaping purchasing decisions within households today.

Surveying children provides businesses with a unique window into their attitudes towards products, services, and marketing messages.

This knowledge allows businesses to develop products and campaigns that resonate with younger audiences, fostering brand loyalty that can last a lifetime.

Additionally, results can help businesses in identifying emerging trends and adapting their strategies to meet the evolving needs of future generations.

How to design effective children’s surveys

1. Get parents’ permission:

Consent from a parent or guardian is needed before a child can take part. At YouGov, we make sure that topics are clear in our surveys to panel members, so that parents can make an informed decision on whether or not to allow their child to take the survey.

This is also to make sure we are following industry guidelines of surveying children.

2. Exercise sensitivity

Unlike with face-to-face research, online methodologies mean we can’t see if the child is getting upset, anxious, or confused. This means precautions must be taken to make sure we aren’t asking about topics that might be upsetting or harmful for younger children.

The topics should also be relevant for their age. For example, questions aimed at secondary school children shouldn’t mistakenly be directed to those in primary school.

3. Use clear language:

Make sure the questions can be understood by all children, regardless of how old they are. If you are surveying across all age groups, the language should be as clear to six-year-olds as it is to 15-year-olds.

If sending the survey out to a wide age group, i.e. six to18 year-olds, we include an explanation for the older children so that they are aware the language has been simplified for younger children.

4. Avoid jargon:

If you want young people to answer your question, it needs to be clear what you are asking them. Complicated words or definitions should be clearly explained and simplified so that nothing is ambiguous.

5. Use images and colour:

Having only text in a survey can make it feel monotonous and flat. Visuals can help with this, putting questions into context, as well as making the survey more engaging, stimulating, and interactive.

6. Keep it short:

Answering lengthy questions can be tiring, especially for respondents participating in surveys for kids.

Shorter questions will hold their attention better and ensure they provide more accurate responses in children's questionnaires.

7. Give clear instructions:

In children's questionnaires, it's crucial to make the question format crystal clear. Whether it's single choice, multiple choice, or an open-ended question where they can type their answer, a child should be able to understand what's expected of them right away.

This will help avoid confusion and ensure they provide accurate responses in your survey for children.

8, Avoid long lists:

Lengthy answer choices can be overwhelming in surveys for children. Shorter, easier-to-understand options will prevent confusion and ensure they don't miss an answer they might have chosen if it was presented more clearly.

9. Use a consistent format:

Children’s questionnaires should have a clear and consistent layout with space between the instructions, the question, and the answer options. A well-organized layout makes it easier for children to navigate the survey and reduces the risk of confusion.

10. Avoid negativity:

Try not to use strongly negative words such as “hate,” “ban,” and so on. If required, try to use softer words such as “dislike,” and “avoid.”

Get started today

Understanding children's thoughts, feelings, and preferences is crucial for any brand or organization looking to connect with the future generation of consumers. However, conducting surveys for children requires a specialized approach that considers their age, development, and attention span.

At YouGov, we have extensive experience crafting engaging and effective surveys specifically designed for young audiences. Our team of experts understands the nuances of child development and can tailor questions and answer choices to be clear, concise, and age appropriate.

Why YouGov?

  • Safe and secure: We prioritize data privacy and adhere to all relevant regulations regarding online research with children.
  • Engaging: Our surveys incorporate age-appropriate visuals to keep children engaged and motivated to participate.
  • Targeted reach: Our global panel of over 26 million registered members allows you to target specific demographics (of parents) to ensure your survey reaches the right children for your research needs.

Whether you're developing a new product, crafting a marketing campaign, or simply trying to understand your target audience better, YouGov's suite of research solutions can provide the insights you need.

We have two primary options for surveying children:

YouGov’s proprietary panel of 26m+ registered members is robust, meaning you can trust in our data and can reach who you need to. The Pew Research Center concluded that YouGov “consistently outperforms competitors on accuracy” in ‘Vendor Choice Matters’.