Data from the sixth sweep of the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) at age 14 is now available from the UK Data Service.
MCS has been following the lives of just over 19,500 children born across the UK in 2000-01. The Age 14 Sweep was an important milestone for both cohort members and the study itself. A total of 11,726 families took part at this age, enhancing the study’s value as a resource for research into the lives and development of the millennium generation as they leave childhood and enter adolescence.
The new data will allow researchers to explore important questions about the daily lives of young people, the progression of their cognitive and physical development, and how aspects of young people’s lives and abilities have been transferred from one generation to the next.
The MCS Age 14 Sweep, carried out between January 2015 and April 2016, marked an important transitional age for the millennium generation, and the first time the cohort members have been visited since moving to secondary school.
At their home visits, cohort members completed an extensive self-completion questionnaire covering several aspects of life, including their:
· daily activities
· identity and attitudes
· mental and physical health
· wellbeing and life satisfaction
· aspirations for the future.
They also answered new questions about important issues in the early teenage years:
· risky behaviours, including alcohol, smoking and drugs
· antisocial and criminal activities, and contact with the police
· puberty, romantic relationships and sexual behaviour.
Trained interviewers measured the cohort members’ height, weight and body fat, allowing for studies of the how physical development progresses from early childhood through adolescence.
Both resident parents took part in face-to-face interviews about family composition, housing, parenting attitudes and activities, as well as their own health, employment and income. They also answered questions about the cohort member’s schooling, physical and mental health, and behaviour. The Age 14 Sweep also marks the fifth time parents have completed the Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire for cohort members.
Parents answered more sensitive questions through a self-completion questionnaire that covered the quality of their relationships with their partner and the cohort member, their own alcohol consumption and drug use, and their experience of depression and anxiety.
MCS has been tracking cohort members’ cognitive development since they were in their early years. At age 14, the study added to this valuable collection of data with two cognitive assessments: of cohort members’ vocabulary and of their propensity for risk taking.
For the first time, parents also took part in a vocabulary assessment, providing the first objective measure of parental cognition for the study. This will allow researchers to investigate the inter-generational transmission of cognitive ability using an objective measure. A similar assessment was included in 1970 British Cohort Study at ages 16 and 42, providing an opportunity for cross-cohort comparisons.
More data from the MCS Age 14 Sweep will be available in the coming months.
Cohort members completed detailed time-use diaries online or using a mobile phone app for two randomly-selected days (one weekday and one weekend day). MCS is the first national study to collect time-use data in this way.
Cohort members were also asked to wear accelerometers on the same two days that they completed the time-use diaries. This data provides objective measures of their physical activity and sedentary behaviour, which can be compared to the self-reported data from the time-use diaries.
Cohort members and biological parents provided saliva samples as part of the Age 14 Sweep. This is the first time a triad of DNA samples has been collected from two biological parents and their child in a large-scale national study. These samples are currently undergoing genotyping, and will enable researchers to look at the genetic influences on life course events and trajectories. Genotypes from the data will be available via an independent access committee