If American childhood has become a hothouse of overscheduling and stress, it's not showing up in the data. Mahoney and his colleagues calculated just how much time kids spend at sports games and practices, faith-based activities, doing volunteer work, and meeting the demands of afterschool programs and other obligations. The average was about five hours per week. Many teens – about 40 percent – spent no time at all in organized activities during the school week.
Where are all the exhausted superkids? A mere 6 percent of U.S. teens participate in 20 hours or more of organized activities in a week, and even those who overdo it end up better off than the completely disengaged. "At a national level, over-scheduling in organized activities seems to be overstated," says Mahoney, a professor of psychology at Elizabethtown College. "Relatively few youth participate excessively in organized activities and even their adjustment is reliably more positive across broad array of outcomes, from childhood to young adulthood, than youth who are uninvolved," he observes. When they revisited the data in 2012, Mahoney and his colleagues found the benefits of participation in organized activities had persisted into young adulthood "in terms of lower psychological distress, and higher educational attainment and civic engagement."
Labels: common core, opt-out, PARCC