Money is best thing in the world, say primary children

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The next generation of teenagers looks set to be more materialist than ever before. A survey of under-10s revealed that today's primary school children value "money and getting rich" above all other things, regarding them as "the best thing in life".

Perhaps surprisingly for an age dominated by reality TV shows and celebrity culture, being in possession of the folding stuff beat "being famous" into second place. Last year, getting rich did not even make the top 10, while fame was the most sought-after quality. But perceptions of exactly how much was needed to be rich varied widely. Some youngsters thought as little as £460 would provide the passport to perpetual happiness, while others suggested £200m was nearer the mark.

Being famous was followed by the evergreen childhood favourites of football and pop music in third and fourth place respectively. Parents may be dismayed to learn that children also ranked their animals above their family in the online survey of 2,500 youngsters to mark National Kids' Day. When it came to the "worst thing in the world", children disliked "drunk people" most of all. It was followed by that other unloved adult vice - smoking. The common antisocial problems of litter and graffiti were ranked third and fourth.

Bullies, last year's top hate, came sixth, followed by illness, shopping, boredom and nightmares. When it came to naming the world's most famous person, the Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney pipped Jesus into second place. However, he failed to dislodge God from the top spot, although the Lord was ranked only 10th when it came to the best things in the world. Rooney's England team-mate David Beckham was the fourth most famous person.

Tony Edwards, of the business organisation Luton First, which commissioned the poll, said it was not surprising that being wealthy had rocketed up to the top of children's priorities. "Children are confronted with people getting rich and it appears to be easy for them. There's the National Lottery, where millions are made frequently, and people win tremendous amounts of money on quiz shows and on the radio."

He said: "Not only is getting rich desirable but it also appears readily available, not necessarily that difficult to get."

The survey found 72 per cent of children thought they would marry when they were adults, and 81 per cent expected to have children. Lies, followed by drunken behaviour, fighting, killing, drugs, knives and guns would be banned if the children had their way.

* Britain's children will be unwrapping toys worth £2bn on Christmas Day, with each child receiving playthings worth about £175. The average person will spend £365 on presents this year, with 47 per cent of this being spent on toys, according to the internet bank Egg.

Values of a 10-year-old

* The best thing in the world

1. Money and getting rich

2. Being famous

3. Football

4. Pop music

5. Animals

6. Families

7. Computer games

8. Holidays by the sea

9. Nice food

10. God

* The worst thing in the world

1. Drunk people

2. Smoking

3. Litter

4. Graffiti

5. War

6. Bullies

7. Illness

8. Shopping

9. Having nothing to do

10. Nightmares