Browse By

Five million UK children have an imaginary friend, latest research reveals

The imagination of kids is there for all to see, with three in ten (30%) – around five million youngsters – having their own imaginary friend, according to new national research.

The study, conducted by Hungry Horse to celebrate new kid’s movie IF, shows more than seven in ten kids (71%) play with their imaginary friend at least once a week, with fun (58%), companionship (56%), and security (45%) cited as the top three reasons to have a make-believe buddy.

More than four in five parents (86%) have heard their child have a pretend conversation with their imaginary friend, while over two thirds (67%) say their child has blamed something they’ve done on them.

The data illustrates the benefits of imaginary friends, with a huge 87% of parents saying having an imaginary friend has improved their child’s social skills, while nearly nine in ten (88%) say having an imaginary friend is beneficial to their child’s mental health and overall mood.

Amazingly, more than one in ten adults (13%) – around five million people – admit to having an imaginary friend, with grown-ups citing healing powers (35%), time travel (33%), and invisibility (28%) as the top three superpowers they’d most like to attribute to their make-believe buddy.

As part of Hungry Horse’s partnership with new movie IF, Hungry Horse has launched an epic competition giving a family of four the chance to win an all-expenses paid trip of a lifetime to New York, where the new movie is set.

To enter, visit the competition website here, submit your details, and answer a simple question about the new movie. The competition – worth more than £5,000 – closes at midnight on June 30th, with winners notified in July.

The winner will receive return flights from London to New York, plus three nights’ accommodation in the city and a day trip to the iconic Coney Island.

Starring Ryan Reynolds, IF is about a girl who discovers she can see everyone’s imaginary friends — and what she does with that superpower — as she embarks on a magical adventure to reconnect forgotten IFs with their kids.

For the creative kids among us, Hungry Horse is also giving one lucky youngster the chance to see their imaginary friend recreated as a movie poster by a professional illustrator, plus a host of other IF goodies.

To enter, simply visit the website here, share your details, and upload a drawing of your child’s imaginary friend – it’s as simple as that.

Sarah Williams, Senior Marketing Manager for Hungry Horse, added: “At Hungry Horse, the whole family is invited – including all those imaginary friends among us. So, please come along, pull up a chair for your make-believe buddy, and enjoy.

“In honour of the nation’s creativity, we’re thrilled to partner with the IF movie to celebrate the enormous imagination of our amazing little ones.

“There’s nothing better than creating memorable experiences with your loved ones, and what could be more special than a family holiday to one the world’s most iconic cities?

“So, enter our new competition to be with a chance of winning – and make memories that will last a lifetime.”

To enter the competition, visit: