New Study: 9 out of 10 parents are losing sleep, concerned about the state of their child’s development and well-being

85% of parents fear character is a “lost value” & many are looking to extracurriculars (including sports-based programs) to help bridge the gap

PONTE VEDRA, Florida, May 10, 2023 – Character is a “lost value,” according to 85% of parents surveyed by youth development organization First Tee and Harris Poll, a market research and analytics company that has been tracking the sentiment of American adults since 1963. According to the new research, parents believe kids need regular opportunities to build character, and they’ve found extracurricular activities like First Tee can help fill the gap.

Eighty-seven percent of parents say they’ve lost sleep over their kids’ well-being. Contributing factors include bullying (41%), the impact of social media (37%) and technology (35%), and peer pressure (36%). Six in 10 parents say their children have a high level of stress, with the majority saying they are concerned about their children’s emotional (60%), behavioral (59%), social (58%), academic (55%), and physical health (55%).

More than 75% of parents agree that playing golf helps children build character and learn important life skills, benefits that are especially critical today as kids face new challenges that are keeping parents up at night.

First Tee is currently undergoing a multi-year business evolution that’s designed to better meet the changing needs of today’s kids and families. The organization launched an updated curriculum last year that’s being implemented by trained coaches in all 50 states and select international locations.

“The findings from Harris Poll support First Tee’s efforts to impact kids beyond the golf course, using sports as a launchpad to introduce key character-building concepts like resilience, leadership and teamwork,” said First Tee CEO Greg McLaughlin. “Parents clearly value these types of opportunities for their kids, and we are committed to making First Tee programming available to families of all means and backgrounds.”

Extracurriculars can help kids build character and confidence

Sixty percent of parents enroll their kids in extracurricular activities to help them build confidence, according to the survey data. Eight of 10 parents say development is more important than recreation when it comes to extracurricular activities. Popular reasons parents put their kids in extracurriculars include socialization (66%), physical outlet (62%), build confidence (60%) and pursue interests (53%).

Sports are the most popular extracurricular activity for kids, with most parents of young athletes reporting that sports have had a positive impact on their kids’ social (94%), physical (93%), behavioral (93%) and emotional (92%) health. Hobbies like coding, music and art trail sports in popularity, followed by scouting.

An ethnicity and socioeconomic “opportunity gap” apparent for parents

While 87% of all parents are losing sleep over concerns for their child’s well-being, the number is higher for Black parents (93%). Black families are least likely (63%) to enroll their kids in activities outside of school, compared to Asian and Pacific Islander families, who are most likely (79%). Families that earn less than $50,000 per year are 27% less likely to enroll their kids in extracurriculars compared to families that earn more than $100,000 annually, highlighting the importance of making youth activities affordable and accessible.

To collect this data, Harris Poll surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults in March of 2023, including 542 parents of kids under 18. This is the first of three First Tee/Harris Poll surveys to be conducted through 2025. To learn more about First Tee and to download the report in its entirety, please visit  

About The Harris Poll
 The Harris Poll is a global consulting and market research firm that strives to reveal the authentic values of modern society to inspire leaders to create a better tomorrow. It works with clients in three primary areas: building twenty-first-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. One of the longest-running surveys in the U.S., The Harris Poll has tracked public opinion, motivations, and social sentiment since 1963, and is now part of Stagwell, the challenger holding company built to transform marketing.



Megan Hart, First Tee    

[email protected]

(904) 940-4348