New Study Suggests Kids Are Happier Receiving Material Gifts Than Experiences

New Study Suggests Kids Are Happier Receiving Material Gifts Than Experiences

Still deciding on what to get the kids this holiday season? A new study suggests that material items may be more fitting gift for younger kids rather than vacations of outings.

When it comes to our children, we want to provide them more than what they need, and as much as they want. For every holiday or birthday, we ponder on what would make their little hearts fill with joy. Maybe that one toy they’ve been asking for? Or maybe a visit to their favourite theme park?

A new study from the University of Illinois Chicago suggested that it may be better giving material gifts to young kids rather than having special outings.

gift experiences

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Materials Items Over Gift Experiences

To compare the level of happiness kids get when they from material gifts and personal experiences, Lan Nguyen Chaplin and his team conducted four studies involving children aged 3 to 12 years old.

The results showed that younger kids enjoyed material things more than outings while older children appeared to appreciate experiences more than possessions as gifts.

Researchers clarified that this does not necessarily mean young kids don’t love having special experiences. Although, for these outings to “provide enduring happiness”, they should be able to remember what they experienced. Once the event is over, younger kids won’t be able to see or touch the experience they just had, making it harder to recall them long after it’s done. Unlike with toys or material items, they would already have a physical reminder of such a precious gift and can provide a “jolt” of happiness when they interact with it again. 

gift experiences

Image Source: iStock

The Value Of Shared Experiences 

Chaplin did have a solution for younger kids to remember vacations and family outings. She suggested parents record these memories through pictures and videos for reminders of these shared experiences. With these, children get to relive these precious memories that they spent with their loved ones even as they grow up. 

“Children are likely going to appreciate those experiences more if there is something to remind them of the event. Additionally, they’ll be able to learn the social value of shared experiences,” said Chaplin. 

While younger kids may love receiving material gifts more than past experiences they won’t remember, they will eventually also get to appreciate shared experiences through recorded memories. 


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Written by

Ally Villar

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