Time of freedom tempered by an adult 'conspiracy' over finances

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The Independent Online
IT IS DEFINITELY a case of swings and roundabouts when it comes to being a child. On the one hand there is lots of time to play football and computer games and eat pizza. On the other, grown- ups hate giving you money, will not take you to dinner parties and tell you off for doing things they do, writes Marianne Macdonald.

'I think it's good being a child . . . because you get really long holidays and you get to play with friends,' piped Dominic Noble, eight, of Hackney, north-east London, whose environmental concerns and assessment of academic ability confirmed statistics in the report.

'I'm not very good at writing but I'm good at everything apart from that. I think the worst thing, probably, about the environment is traffic fumes. I think they're going to be the thing that destroys the Earth.'

His friend, Jamie Macdonald, nine, from Canonbury, north London, said: 'I think being a child is really fun: we play all the time. The best thing is you don't have to buy things. Adults don't really like having to spend money.'

Jamie was also the average child when it comes to pocket money and reading matter. 'I get pounds 1.50 a week which I spend on football cards or sometimes magazines. I like the Nintendo ones and Beano and Dandy.'

He shares a common perception, often erroneous, that age brings wealth. For example, 15-year-old Michael Ewer, of Highbury, north London, cannot understand why his parents baulk at his pounds 55 Reebok trainers. 'If you don't have good trainers people take the mickey. Good trainers are a necessity,' he said.

Nelson Batista, also 15, was more interested in independence than money. 'I can't wait until I'm grown-up because I'll have a much better time, go to raves and clubs and have a car.'

Scarlett Flynn-Pugh, nine, of Holloway, north London, was not as fond of television as the report suggests: statistics show children watch 17 to 22 hours a week. Scarlett thought she watched about seven hours. 'I like Neighbours, Home and Away, Coronation Street, Grange Hill.' But she did not admire her peers' reading taste. 'My Little Pony] Yeuch] Too girly.' As for the future: 'I'd like to be grown-up because you can do things, like go out.'

Mozart-loving Alexandra Knox, 10, of Highbury, north London, was in tune with her age group, which named Jurassic Park as their favourite film last year.

She thought childhood had its advantages: 'You get to have more fun. But you also get told off when adults don't. And they go out to dinner parties and won't let you come.'

(Photograph omitted)

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