“This is legitimate and completely legal,” says Peter Milla, chief information officer at Survey Sampling International (SSI). “But at SSI, we work to ensure that it’s completely safe, since all such surveys must follow strict protocols.” Milla further advises that parents should be aware of potential emotional pitfalls associated with online sampling and the interventional role they can play to ensure their child’s survey experience is a positive one.
Milla offers several examples of best practices parents should expect to encounter in a bona fide professional online survey, as well as suggestions for ways they can enrich their child’s survey participation and make his or her experience fun and successful. He notes the process begins with an email arriving in the parent’s inbox inviting the child to participate in the survey.
“A research company concerned with following best practices will send email at a time when the child is likely to be home and available; in other words, not during school hours, early morning or late evening,” advises Jackie Lorch, vice president of global knowledge management at SSI.
Sending the survey invitation directly to the child’s parents addresses several primary issues, according to Lorch. It allows parents to:
• Determine whether or not they wish their child to participate in the survey. A link to the country-specific guidelines should be included, as should a parental consent form. A parent should thoroughly understand the rules and regulations protecting the child’s privacy and safety online prior to allowing the child to participate.
• Determine whether or not the child is eligible to participate in terms of age or gender. Children are easily frustrated and disappointed when they don’t qualify.
• Plan a convenient time/times to complete the survey. Children, especially young children, have a short attention span and may need more than one sitting to complete the survey.
In addition, says Lorch, the parent portion of the survey should clearly explain what is expected of the child. The parent should then share that information with the child, using simple language he/she will understand.
“It’s very important for the parent to remain with the child for the duration of the survey,” she says. “Children often need to clarify points during the course of survey completion, and the parent will know how to properly phrase the questions and access the email address provided by the research company. Plus, most children appreciate the moral support.”
Lorch concludes, “It’s a better survey experience for everyone when the parent qualifies the child as much as possible before inviting him or her to the computer. Children are the adult survey takers of the future. By providing them with an enjoyable survey experience at a young age, parents are helping to build a foundation of engaged respondents for 2020 and beyond.”