Leisure Activities, On- and Offline
How young people spend their free time has been shown to affect their health and wellbeing. Spending time with friends, doing sports, or attending after school groups has been shown to make some people feel happier. As young people grow older they are allowed more freedom to decide how to spend their free time. The choices that young people make about how they spend their free time will help them to develop their sense of identity and intimacy. Yet, they may start spending more and more time in screen activities, playing online games or connecting with others online.
Previous research on leisure has mainly focused on structured activities which take place after school. However, these types of activities only account for a small proportion of young people’s overall leisure time. In fact, many young people fail to engage in any structured out of school activities at all and time spent reading, watching television, listening to music, or just hanging out with friends are often areas which are overlooked in research.
Advances in technology have led to dramatic shifts in the way that young people spend their free time. Did you know that the average young person growing up today is estimated to spend approximately 10,000hours playing video games by the time they reach 21? We know very little about how spending time watching films, playing computer games, or interacting with other people online affects young people’s feelings of happiness. Increased interaction with technology may limit the amount of time that young people engage in face-to-face interaction or take the place of some other activity. This has resulted in parents becoming increasingly concerned about their children and how they spend their free time. Some researchers think that spending too much time in front of a computer might be bad for young people, but are certain activities in fact more beneficial than others? Maybe it helps you to make more friends? To date, we don't have enough information to answer these questions.
In this new study we are seeking young people aged 12-16 to fill in a brief questionnaire every day for a week. This questionnaire will be accessible online and will ask participants questions about how they spent their leisure time during that day. Questions will refer to how much time they engaged in a number of activities such as reading, writing, listening to music, screen time and sports participation. Before you start with the leisure questionnaire, we will ask a series of questions about other aspects of young people’s lives such as friendships, mood, and bullying. You need to fill these out before you can start!
For parents and participant Q&A please see the links: