Washington, January 1: Pets are common but their importance to children and early adolescents has received scant empirical attention. Researchers from the University of Cambridge find that teenagers, especially girls, get more satisfaction from relationships with their pets than their brothers or sisters.The findings, published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, indicate that boys and girls were equally satisfied with their pets, but girls reported more disclosure, companionship and conflict with their pets as compared to boys, perhaps indicating that girls may interact with their pets in more nuanced ways.
The researchers surveyed 12- year-old children from 77 families with one or more pets of any type and more than one child at home. Research indicates that household pets may have a major influence on child development and can have a positive impact on the social skills and emotional well-being of the children.
Study showed that girls reported more disclosure, companionship, and conflict with their pet than did boys, while dog owners reported greater satisfaction and companionship with their pet than did owners of other pets. Highlighting the importance of early adolescents' pet relationships, participants derived more satisfaction and engaged in less conflict with their pets than with their siblings.
Evidence continues to grow showing that pets have positive benefits on human health and community cohesion. The social support that adolescents receive from pets may well support psychological well-being later in life but there is still more to learn about the long-term impact of pets on children's development.