Are today's children 'over-scheduled?'

Filed under: Teens, Development/Milestones: Babies, That's Entertainment

It's getting to be that time of year when we begin to think of our children starting both school and all the autumn activities that occur. Are they going to be trying to do too many things at once? The Society for Research in Child Development recently challenged the popular notion that today's children are over-scheduled as a result of the hurried and stressful lives from participating in too many organized activities. An analysis of new data from a national study and a review of the scientific evidence concluded that children participate in organized activities because they enjoy them, they are exciting, they provide encouragement and support from friends and peers, they are challenging and they increase self worth. The report also highlighted that youth who participate in organized activities show healthier functioning than those who do not participate, in areas such as academic success, substance use, and the quality of relationships with their parents.

The authors suggested that perhaps more so than the children, it is the parents who are overextended, with ongoing conflicts regarding their life roles. than the public's concern about over-scheduled youth. Other findings cited in these papers are:
  • Kids usually participate in organized activities not because they are under pressure from their parents, but mostly because they want to participate themselves.
  • On average, White and Black youth spent about 5 hours a week in organized activities, approximately the same amount of time they spent on out-of-school educational activities. They spent less than 5 hours performing household chores and hanging out, but more time playing games and watching television.
  • The benefits of participation tend not to decline as participation goes up; by and large, even youth who spent 20 or more hours per week in organized activities show better adjustment compared to youth who do not participate at all.
  • Educational benefits of participating in sports seem to level off after two competitive team sports. In at least one study, athletes report drinking more alcohol in high school than non-athletes, but not more drug use or smoking.
Whew, I feel better already! Bring on the soccer, the school band, the chorus....

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.