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Published September 6th 2013

Twitter Reveals that Children are Dreading the Return to School

No matter how you spent your summer, either sunbathing in the UK, enjoying overseas holidays or going for the cheapest option – a “fakeation” – Autumn is now here. And, as usual, the first days of the season bring back memories from our own first days back to school.

You’d always see these two types of reactions: kids looking forward to reuniting with friends and sharing their holiday adventures, or, on the contrary, distressed by the sudden return to a strict daily schedule, long studying hours and early mornings.

As things have changed since we were in school, we decided to take a look at what’s happening these days.

By using Brandwatch to listen to online conversation from UK pupils this week, we found over 24,000 tweets about going back to school and interestingly, the sentiment analysis revealed some rather surprising results, especially when compared to the topics or brands we’ve monitored in the past.


Often the percentage of positive mentions for a ‘youth’ topic is considerably higher than the negativity percentage, but in this case it was much closer: 8% positive and 7% negative.

Additionally, a closer inspection indicated that the top emoticons used in tweets were sad faces (481 tweets), while only 243 tweeters leaned on smiley faces  to share their feelings.


Perhaps starting school is not seen as a reason for glee at all.

What is it that upsets teens so much about going back to school? And is it all doom and gloom?

Well, digging deeper into the data revealed a lot of emotive language. When isolating the conversation about Summer experiences and leisure activities – a key theme for many about to returning to school – some of the most popular words used were love, perfect and good.

In contrast, other popular terms were sad, hate, scared and weird, which were much more closely associated with the actual discussion of the dreaded return to school.

Another interesting component of the conversation was the key differences between the genders.

The data showed that 67% of tweeters were female, while only 33% were male, supporting the entrenched stereotype that girls tend to disclose more about their feelings than boys – at least when chatting about school.

We also wanted to examine which content got shared the most in these discussions, and discovered that the top result was simply a picture taken in a supermarket in Liverpool, which received almost 600 retweets and 228 favorites.

This backs up research suggesting that tweets with image links get two times the engagement than those without.

 most popular picture

Humourous image links do even better, as proved in this case.

We hope you’ve enjoyed getting a sliver of insight into what teens genuinely think about going back to school, sharing their deepest concerns and most sincere feelings, even if they are largely dreading the thought of the new academic year.

We’re always interested in understanding what different demographics are discussing online about a particular topic, particularly in reference to brands and how they can leverage this for business success.

Do let us know if there is anything that interests you in particular about this area of research, and if you have anything further to contribute.

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Crimson Hexagon has merged with Brandwatch. You’re in the right place!

From May 8th, all Crimson Hexagon products are now on the Brandwatch website. You’ll find them under ‘Products’ in the navigation. If you’re an existing customer and you want to know more, your account manager will be happy to help.