Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment commissioned the survey, which polled 1,000 children aged between 5 and 16, to coincide with the DVD release of the film Aliens In The Attic. Survey findings revealed that less than one in ten 16 year-olds can name all eight planets in the solar system, and that there is little difference between what teenagers and younger children know about space, with 95% of five-year-olds failing to name all the planets, compared with 94% of 16-year-olds.
A quarter of children expressed the desire to visit other planets, with 22% saying that meeting aliens was the prime reason behind their longing for space travel; 72% said that they thought aliens would be peaceful; and 21% of 16-year-olds thought that aliens existed, whereas only 7% thought that Santa Claus was real. Furthermore, one-third of the children polled said that they thought one of their teachers might be an alien.
According to child psychologist and TV presenter Laverne Antrobus, children love to escape into the fantasy world of make believe that they can imagine for themselves, and the survey shows that children are far more excited by the belief in aliens than they are by thinking about where aliens may actually come from.
Some of those fantasies may be filled by recent technological advances that mean that scientists are closer than ever to knowing whether life exists on other planets in the Milky Way Galaxy.
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