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Simple Question Sheds Light on Teens' Hopes, Dreams

Among top three wishes were wealth, material items and world peace, researchers find

WEDNESDAY, May 4, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Adults often find it hard to fathom what teenagers are thinking, but simply asking teens about their wishes and hopes revealed some interesting trends, researchers report.

The study included 110 adolescents, aged 11 to 18, who completed a health screening questionnaire that included the question: "If you could have three wishes, what would they be?"

The researchers found that 85 percent of participants had wishes for themselves, 32 percent had wishes for others and 10 percent had wishes for both themselves and others. When it came to wishing for things only for themselves, boys were more likely than girls to do so (73 percent vs. 46 percent). Among those who wished for things for their families, girls tended to do so more than boys (26 percent vs. 9 percent).

The investigators also found that boys were more likely to put success on their wish list, while girls wished more for happiness.

Common wishes included being wealthy (41 percent of wishes), having material items such as a car or video game system (31 percent), good things for the world, such as global peace (20 percent), good fortune for family (17 percent), and personal school or athletic success (17 percent).

"Despite what we thought going into the study, only about 8 percent of adolescent wishes were about personal appearance, with only 4 percent wishing to be thinner," study senior author Dr. Eliana M. Perrin, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and pediatrician at North Carolina Children's Hospital, said in an American Academy of Pediatrics news release.

The study is scheduled for presentation Monday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, in Denver.

"We so rarely get an insight into teenagers' wishes, and this study and the screening form in general give adolescents a voice," Perrin said. "Examining trends over time may help shape policy and education for adolescents."

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers health tips for teens.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, May 2, 2011
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