Growing Up participant says it's important for adults to listen to children

Growing Up participant says it's important for adults to listen to children
November 9, 2020

Growing Up in New Zealand participant says it's “pretty cool” that the study encourages adults to pay close attention to children’s lives and experiences.

Papatoetoe 11-year-old JJ Mariner has been part of Growing Up in New Zealand from birth and thinks it’s “pretty cool” for adults to pay such close attention to children’s lives and experiences.

The keen musician and his family are among more than 6,000 families who share their stories with the country’s largest longitudinal study to help provide insights into the lives of children growing up in the complex world of 21st century New Zealand.

“I think it’s pretty cool that we have a bunch of scientists studying children.  Adults don’t usually ask kids like me that many questions about how we live so it’s cool that they are doing that and finding out more about how different kids live,” JJ says.

His mum, Linda, agrees.  She signed up to be part of Growing Up in New Zealand because she really felt it could make a difference.

“I thought this study was a really exciting thing to be involved in and that this research would help to influence policy to address any gaps where children and young people may need more support,” she says.

JJ says he is keen to find out more about what the study has learnt from its interviews with children like himself at the age of eight in the Now We Are Eight report.

Now We Are Eight features the voices of the children for the first time as they were interviewed directly and asked for the first time to identify their own ethnicity and gender.

Like a third of the children in the study, JJ identifies with more than one ethnicity. He is half Samoan and half Canadian.

“The best things about my culture are my family and the food - especially chop suey!” JJ says.  “I also like celebrating White Sunday at my Grandma’s church because we get to perform plays and read bible verses.”

Like most other Growing Up children, JJ lives a busy life.  He is learning the saxophone and preparing for a music concert; he enjoys playing basketball and dodgeball; he is part of his school’s maths team; and he likes coding and robotics.

JJ enjoys going to school and he’s not alone in that regard - 80% of Growing Up children enjoy school.

“I really like school.  My teachers are really nice and I like playing with my friends. There’s lots of technology options.  I really like coding and working on a project to make lego robots do things,” he says.

JJ and his peers are digital natives and like 95% of Growing Up children, JJ has access to a device at home, but he has strict controls on when he can use his family’s x-box.

“I can use the x-box on weekends, but not on weekdays. I really like to play Minecraft and my Batman games where I can beat the bad guys,” he says.

JJ says he’s keen to continue to be involved in Growing Up in New Zealand and hopes the study will lead to changes that will benefit kids like him.

You can read the full Now We Are Eight: Life in Middle Childhood report here.

JJ Mariner at the age of eight.