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‘Don’t litter, it affects the animals’

With many wildlife species decreasing at a rapid rate (60 percent of mammals and birds in less than 50 years), urgent action is needed. Could this be the generation to reverse this tragic statistic?

Kids are mad about animals, fact.

And they’re not fussy about having a favourite species (in a poll 42% of our kids said they like ALL animals).

Each week, our panel of kids (aged 9-12) tell us what they’re up to, which lately has included searching for pictures of cute dogs or cats for their profile pictures, creating animal sanctuaries while gaming, caring for their own pets or watching funny and cute animal videos (such as Beano’s new YouTube show Untamed – cat tricks, rebellious reptiles and devious dogs, what’s not to like?).

While animal cuteness is always a winner with our kids, they’re just as interested in their welfare. Because of this, they’re keen to do everything they can to help the planet, and are often more clued up about eco issues than their folks.

Saving animals is a priority

We asked our kids in a poll how we could make more people recycle, and the top answer was: ‘show them a video of what happens to animals and the planet if we don’t recycle’ (37%).

‘At school we learned about people littering and how to stop it. I think we need to get people not to litter, and to use less plastic and use paper instead. It makes the world a dirty place and affects animals if it goes in the sea.’ Lily

‘It’s bad to have waste, animals swallow it and die. We have to put the milk bottle in a black bin. I think they dissolve the plastic.’ Cody

Our kids feel strongly about the environment and the main driving force behind this is their love of furry (or scaly/feathered etc) friends. In fact, nearly a third of kids think we should make recycling a law, with nearly one in five saying kids should be in charge of showing grown-ups how it’s done!

Eco documentaries have a marked effect on our kids, and some of them were upset at scenes in BBC One’s Drowning In Plastic:

‘We watched Drowning In Plastic – there was a duck with plastic in its belly. It grossed me out – there's just too much plastic.’ Cody

A boy playing with his pet dog
Boy's best friend: caring for a pet brings kids great benefits

Pet carers

Our kids are a cohort of pet lovers, with 65% of kids in our poll owning a pet (and a further 20% saying they don’t but they’d really like one!).

Maya has spent some time playing with her friend's dogs and really, really wants a dog – a Golden Retriever, Border Collie or Shetland Sheep Dog.

For those kids who have pets, we asked whose idea was it to get one: most kids said it was theirs (33%) showing pester power works when it comes to family decision making. Some of our kids saved up their own money to buy a pet:

I used to have a hamster. It died. I asked for it and saved up my money to help buy it. I really want a Guinea pig.’ Josh

We are getting a dog. My gran has one and I am so jealous. I have enough money saved to buy one but not enough for the food and kennel. Mum says she doesn’t mind and Dad says if I want one I can have it.’ Braden

When it comes to who looks after their pet the most, the most popular answer in our poll was the kids themselves (29%).

Research has shown owning and caring for pets brings great benefits for kids, such as higher self-esteem, brain development and social skills, found a study by the University of Liverpool. It certainly does wonders for patience and problem-solving – after all, you can’t reason with a hamster!

Pet-owning kids learn to nurture and care for another living thing, helping them develop empathy for treatment of wildlife and farm animals in the wider world.

Virtual pets

And if kids can’t have a pet of their own, the gaming world offers plenty of opportunity to nurture animals. Our kids care for their virtual pets as much as they would the real thing: they’ll spend ages researching names and work out a schedule for feeding them.

‘I'm really excited about the dogs in Minecraft - I've got 12 dogs, 6 horses and 6 cats and I need to feed them every day.’ Asena

You can get pets in this (Fortnite) season like a dog or a chameleon or a dragon. I want a dog. Tier 20 is a werewolf riding a Llama!’ Braden

Our kids get creative with pet homes, taking inspiration from films such as Hotel For Dogs and then recreating this in games, such as Minecraft.

Family bonding

In an age where tech can often divide a family, animals bring them together.

Meredith and her family have gone back to basics after Christmas with lots of long walks with the dog.

'We have a dog called Cookie. She’s a Chow Chow – like a lion dog. We’ve had her 7 years and we all take her walks and she gets Christmas presents.’ Cody

Although sometimes our kids think their parents go a bit far:

Braden visited a cat cafe with his mum this week - he thought it was odd and anyway he's more of a dog person ...

With populations of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish plummeting by 60 percent in less than 50 years, many species on the brink of extinction, we need to work faster to tackle deforestation, climate change and plastic pollution (source: WWF). It’s heartening to know that there’s a new generation more than willing to do something about it.

Find out more about the issues that really matter to kids right now with our fortnightly trend report.

How Beano for Brands can help your marketing strategy

Beano for Brands is a kid-first consultancy and agency for brands seeking to connect with a new generation who are already rewriting the rules of engagement, creativity and even the world around them.

Our fortnightly reports are drawn from a wide range of touch points with real kids and families: Trendspotters (a UK-wide panel aged 9-12), insight and analytics from – the UK’s fastest-growing kids’ site, external research and 80 years of working with kids. Sign up at

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