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mahoney08 - 13 ORGANIZED ACTIVITY PARTIClPATlON FOR...

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Unformatted text preview: 13 ORGANIZED ACTIVITY PARTIClPATlON FOR CHILDREN FROM LOW- AND MIDLE~ lNCOME FAMILIES Joseph L. Mahoney Yale University J acquelynne S. Eccles University of Michigan Recent research demonstrates that how children spend their after—school time has i'mplicati ons for their development in multiple domains (Mahoney, Larson, & Eccles, 2005: National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2002). In this regard, it is noteworthy that the after—school experiences of children from low~ and middle income families differ. A salient difference is participation in organized activities (eg, extracurricular activities, after~school and community programs). National estimates show that children’s participation in school— and connnunity-based sports, clubs, lessons, and after—school programs increase as family income rises (Ehrle & Anderson Moore, 1999:, Lugaila, 2003; McNeal, 1998). Qualitative research resonates with these estimates (Lareau, 2003; Lareau & Weininger, this volume). The aftermschool lives of children from middle—income families typically involve more participation in organized activities than their low—income counterparts. The economic—related discrepancy in rates of organized activity participation has generated different concerns for children from low- and middle—income families. Although research often demonstrates benefits of organized activity participation, one concern is that such participation is excessive for children from middle-income families. As a result, it has been proposed that organized activities may contribute to an “ovenscheduling” for middle‘class families and that this may be detrimental to family functioning and child adjustment. By contrast, for children from low— income families, the concern is that a lack of organized activities may result in failed opportunities to build competencies developed through participation and increases risks associated with after—school arrangements that are unstructured or unsupervised. In this chapter we consider the scientific evidence surrounding these concerns. 207 ‘ 208 MAHONEY EC (5 [—1 (‘11 m Are Children from Middle-«income Families Oven-Scheduled in Organized Activities? [Over—scheduled child rearing] unbalances families, damages marriage and contributes to unhappy, overstressed children being diagnosed as learning disabled, ADD, bipolar, and depressed, and to adolescents getting involved with drugs, alcohol, and premature sex (Rosenfield, 2003', p. 1). Whether children participate in organized activities depends, in part, on the behavior of their parents. Children are more likely to become involved and to stay involved in organized activities when parents value and encourage their participation, provide the necessary material resources, and are participants themselves (Fletcher5 Elder, & Mekos, 2000; Simpkins, Davis—Kean, & Eccles, 2005). However, there is evidence that the time budgeting and schedule commitments required of parents to support their children’s activity participation can be challenging particularly for working parents with several children (Lareau, 2003). _ There has been speculation in the popular media that families managing child participation in several organized activities are “over—scheduled”, resulting in a disruption of family life and contributing to psychological distress for children (Gilbert, 1999; Noonan, 2001; Roscnfield, 2003). This contention has drawn on research showing that as children from relatively affluent families enter adolescence they may be at heightened risk for substance use, depression, and anxiety compared to their low~income counterparts (Luthar & Latendresse, 2005a). Factors such achievement pressures and isolation from parents help to account for these findings (Luthar & Becker, 2002; Luthar & Latendresse, 2005b). Accordingly, part of what we term the “over—scheduling” hypothesis (OS), children from middle~inc0me families may experience a decline in parent~child relationships and an increase in psychological distress as organized activity participation increases. In opposition to the OS hypothesis, a scientific basis exists to expect that increasing amounts of organized activity participation may be associated with incremental benefits for children and families. We refer to this as the “organized activity” hypothesis (CA). With some qualifications, the bulk of the evidence indicates that organized activity participation is linked with positive adjustment for children across a range of psychological, social, and educational outcomes and for samples diverse in socioeconomic status (for reviews see, cg, Dubois, Holloway, Valentine, & Cooper, 2002; Eccles, Barber, Stone, & Hunt, 2003; Eccles & Templeton, 2002; Mahoney, Larson, & Eccles, 2005; National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2002; Vandell, Pierce, & Dadisman, 2005). However, only a few longitudinal studies have assessed directly whether the benefits hold for children participating in many organized activities. Moreover, little consideration UKUAN 145 El) AL 1 l V l 1 I fAK 1 lLllt'Al lUlV 1" UK L l‘lLLJJKL‘JV AU? as been given to whether it is normative for children from middle~income families demonstrate excessive participation in organized activities. To evaluate the OS and 0A hypotheses we first examine the amount of time hat children ordinarily devote to organized activity participation. Then we consider evelopmental consequences for children and families (i.e., parent-child relationships, psychological distress, social and educational adjustment) with ncreasing amounts of organized activity participation. 0w M itch Time Do Children Spend in Organized Activities? review of time use studies employing the Experience Sampling Method and/or me diary approach suggests that American children experience 40—50% of their faking hours as discretionary time (Larson & Verona, 1999). This amount of time as been fairly consistent over the past century and estimates of free time are only lightly greater for children from lower—income families. On average, organized ctivitics such as sports, art, music, and clubs consume 50—80 minutes of middle— lass adolescents’ free time each day (about 13—l6% of free time per week). National stimates of children ages 6~l 2 are slightly lower (i.e., 20~30 minutes per day; 5— % of free time per week) (Lareau & Weininger, this volume)I i Accordingly, young ersons spend the vast majority of their free time in pursuits other than organized ctivity participation (e. g, watching television. talking, household chores, or paid abor). Moreover, although participation in organized activities is a normative evelopmental experience for children (Ehrle & Anderson Moore, 1999; Lareau & Weininger, this volume; Lugaila, 2003), longitudinal investigations suggest that [adolescents typically participate in about two organized activities per year (see below). Accordingly, organized activities do not ordinarily dominate the free—time xperience of young persons. Does Adjustment Decline with. Increasing Amounts of Organized _ctivity Participation? \ ’0 address this question, we consider findings from three longitudinal studies hat focus on children’s organized activity participation and psychosocial djustment. Our expectation is that increasing amounts of organized activity .-participati011 will not be associated with a decline in adjustment. The basis for this erctation derives from studies examining the mechanisms by which participation 11 organized activities relate to positive outcomes (eg, Eccles & Templeton, 2002; ahoney, Larson, & Eccles,'2()05; National Research Council and Institute of _ 1 Ti me is based on one child sampled in a given family. It may be misleading to estimate organizcd activity :Wflicipation for all children in a family by multiplying a single child’s estimate by the number of children. All children in a family do not necessarily spend the same amount of time on organized activities. It may also be misleading TO assume that parents‘ time commitment to children’s activities can be inferred from a single child's schedule. hildrcn in the same family often have partially overlapping activity schedules and parents are unlikely to participate Hectiy in every activity function for each child. 2n) MAHONEY a: E,qu Medicine, 2002). Among other things, this work suggests that the organized activ context is rich with respect to: (l) structuring time in a conventional pursuit tha socially valued and that helps form linkages between family, school, and communi (2) providing opportunities for developing supportive social relationships, W peers and adults; (3) creating a shared experience and point of communication fl?) parents and children that may otherwise be unavailable; (4) facilitating paren ‘ knowledge of child whereabouts, peer relationships, and free time pursuits; an (5) providing an avenue for identity development, initiative, belonging, and 33E worth. To the extent that emphasis on any given mechanism varies, or is reinforced across different activities, then children‘s positive adjustment should be expecte to increase with greater amounts of participation. To begin, the amount of organized activity participation was assessed] relation to aspects of the parentechild relationship and indicators of chi psychological distress in a sample of 1,227 middle~class youth followe longitudinally across grades 8 and 9. The sample represents 92% of all stude attending grade 8 from a middle—sized city located in central Sweden (populatio about l20,000). In both years, students reported the number of organized activitie they participated in at least one day/week over the past year (e.g., sports, music theatre, church, scouts, political, hobby clubs, etc.) At each assessment, the also responded to multi-item scales concerning parental knowledge of their fre time (e.g., “Do your parents know what you do during your free timely”). parent child communication through child disclosure (e.g., “Do you keep secrets from your parents about what happens during your free time?”) and parent solicitati ' (e.g., “How often do your parents start a conversation with you about your fre, time‘?”). parent-child trust (e.g., “Do you parents trust that you will stay outo trouble during your free time 17”) and their frequency of psychological distress terms of depressed and anxious mood (e.g., frequency of sadness, rumination worries about the future, social anxiety). Average responses to the scales wer standardized across the two assessments. The number of activities participatedi at each grade was summed to create a 6-point scale (0 = no participation, 5 participation in five activities or more). Too few participants (3.9%) reporte involvement six activities or more to be considered as separate categories. _ Aspects of the parent—child relationship and indicators of psychologica distress were compared with the number of organized activities using an Analysi of Variance (ANOVA). Descriptive information is shown in Table l3.l. With th exception ol‘parent—child trust, all results were statistically significant (p < .05). A the number of activities increased, parental knowledge and parentchil communication tended to increase in a linear fashion. The trend for parent—chil trust was similar (p < .10). Moreover, both indicators of psychological distres decreased with greater amounts of participation. Thus, during early adolescence the results indicate that increasing amounts of organized activity participation arr positively associated with aspects of parent-child relationships and negatively: linked to indicators of children’s psychological distress. ' I J. \JKKJ’AN lLfllJ /'\\J l l V 11. I KARI ibll’Al iUiV FUR LIILLJJJKLDI A1 1 Table l3.l Organized Activity Participation, Parent-Child Relationships, and “ ndicamrs QfPsyc/zology Distress (N = 1227) Number of Oro anized Activities (Grades 8 and 9)'_(Standardi7.ed Scores) 0 1 2 3 4 5+ MSDMSDMSDMSDMSDMSD (N: 136) (N: 277') (N: 397) (N: 196) (N: 109) (N: 112.) Parent Knowledge ofChilcl --.20 .78 :05 .63 —.01 .63 .00 .6l .ll .62 .ll .52 Parent-Chil d Communication ChildDisclosure ~17 .77 -.09 .69 -.01 .65 .01 .61 .14 .66 .15 .57 Pm‘entSolicitation ~29 .61 ~09 .62 .01 .61 .11 .59 .10 .54 .11 .57 Parent-Child Trust ~14 .75 —.02 .65 --.02 .68 .03 .68 .04 .71 .ll .58 'Anxious Mood .12 .78 .06 .76 .01 .71 —.05 .65 .01 .76 :18 .67 Depressed Mood .15 .59 .01 .57 —.02 .49 :05 .47 —.04 .47 —.03 .47 ‘Avcragc number of activities for Grades 8 and 9 were 1.3 (_ SD = .93) and 1.2 (SD = .95). respectively. For a long—term accounting of organized activity participation and serious maladjustment we consider findings from the Carolina Longitudinal Study (Cairns & Cairns, 1994) that tracked 695 children annually from early adolescence through Young adulthood. The socioeconomic status (SES) of this sample was approximately "average for American families when the study began (1981—1982). Participation in “one form of organized activitieswmschool—based extracurricular activitieswwas determined from school yearbook information gathered over a six—year interval (grades 6:12). For the following analyses, we first performed a median split of SES to identify participants below and above average. Next, we categorized the total “number of extracurricular activities children were involved in during the six years “of secondary school along a 5~point continuum (i.e., 0 = none, 1 = l—»—5 activities, 2 6—1 0 activities, 3 = 11—15 activities, 4 = 16—20 activities, 5 : 21+ activities). Again, too few participants (5.8%) were involved in 22 or more extracurricular activities uring secondary school to categorize participation further. Finally, we compared f’fhcse activityhased categories to rates of school dropout and subsequent criminal , rrests in young adulthood as determined, in part, by school records and State Bureau of Investigation records, respectively (cf, Mahoney, 2000; Mahoney & Cairns, 1997; Mahoncy, Cairns, & Farmer, 2003). Descriptive information is shown in Table 13.2. For children from families bellow or above the median SES, findings from an ANOVA show that the likelihood 0f experiencing school dropout or criminal arrests in young adulthood decrease Significantly (p < .01) with increasing amounts of extracurricular activity participation. Because the rates of dropout and criminal arrests decline to near zero ,(a floor effect) as extracurricular activity participation increases, there is no evidence 212 MAHONEY & ECCLE that increasing amounts of extracurricular activity participation place children- a risk for these outcomes.3 To the contrary, increasing amounts of extracurricul activities during secondary school are negatively associated with school failure and criminal offending. Table 13.2 Extracurricular Activity Participation, School Dropout. and Criminal Arrests According to SE5 (N = 662) Number of Extracurricular Activities (Grades omit)th 0 1‘5 6-10 ll—l5 l6~20 21+ SES Below Average (N = 76) (N = 147) (N = 55) (N: 28) (N: 21) (N = 14) SE3 AboveAverage (N = 27) (N 2 105) (N = 70) (N: 47) (N 30) (N: 42) Proportion of Dropouts SES Below Average .61 .23 .02 .00 .00 .00 L SES Above Average .44 .09 .00 .02 .00 .00 Proportion Arrested (ages 18—24) SES Below Average .34 .16 .09 .07 .06 .07 SES Above Average .26 .07 .04 .02 .00 .00 ‘ Extracurricular activity participation increases across adolescence (Malioney & Cairns. 1997). The average number of activities participated in across grades 6—12 was 1.3. At the peak w during Grade 12 — the average was 2.5. \ Note. = Socioeconomic Status, The third set of findings summarized here comes from the Michigan Study 0 Adolescent Life Transitions (MSALT). In this longitudinal study of working— an middle—class youth and their families in southeastern Michigan, adolescents wer surveyed at school in grades 6, 7, 10, and l2 and again at ages 21 and 25 on a wid variety of indicators of psychosocial functioning, including participation i extracurricular and other outwit—school activities. Here we summarize the finding for the relation of grade 10 activity participation to adjustment and academ’ performance at grades l0, 1 l. and 12 and on post~high school educational an occupational outcomes (for full details see Barber, Eccles & Stone, 2001; Eccles Barber. 1999; Eccles et al., 2003). First, as was true in the previous two studie , virtually no adolescents could be classified as over-scheduled. The majority of th " youth participated in at least one activity. with the average being a little more tha 2. Girls participated in more and a wider variety of activities than boys. Adolescen whose mothers had some college education participated in more activities tha adolescents whose mothers had completed high school or less. 3 Mahoney (2000) found similar results when the sample was disaggregated into homogeneous contiguratio ditterin in hi(Lsocizileacademic adiustment and family econom ie. h sical maturation. aggression. io' llltitl g . . y 3’ t l with peers. academic competence. socioeconomic status). \JKLHM‘J MILL) [AL 11 V 1 1 I fALil lLlL’Z-Xl lUlV FUR L/HLLUKDIV A l 3 Second, there were strong associations between activity participation and bsequent functioning, even when controlling for the adolescents’ functioning grade l0. For every type of activity participation, participants showed more preventth over time than non—participants in school achievement (GPA, high on] completion. college attendance and completion), feelings of school elonging, and self—esteem. These effects were particularly strong for participation ti competitive team sports but also emerged for participation in school clubs, chool performing arts programs, and school leadership activities. Involvement in unteer activities and faith based activity programs predicted higher high school hievement well lowered rates of drinking and drug use. All of these effects ‘ ld even when grade 10 levels on the dependent measure, as well as scores on the ifferential Aptitude Test and mother’s education were controlled. Interestingly, {ch school sport participation also predicted higher income and better jobs at 25. Finally, there was no evidence of declines in the benefits of participation as doleseents participated in more activities. In every case except sports, there was inear increase in the indicators of positive functioning with increasing numbers activities. In addition, the benefits increased linearly as the range of activity pes broadened. Participation in sports did show a leveling off ofbenefits following icipation in two competitive team sports. Together. these last two results suggest at participating in a wider range of activities is more beneficial than participating more team sports. One troubling finding did emerge: participation in competitive athletics redicted increases in alcohol use during the high school years. This change, Qwever. was not reflected in either drug use or cigarette smokingmboth of which 'ere less frequent among athletes than non—athletes. It is likely that the increase in milking reflects the peer culture of athletes in US. high schools at the time of this tidy. Interestingly, this difference in alcohol consumption disappeared by two I rs post‘high school for two reasons: the mean levels of all students going on to Ollege caught up to the athletes’ level of drinking, and the mean level of drinking lined for those high school athletes who did not go on to college. 'llnmrds a reconciliation. The quantitative findings summarized above are W should these results be viewed in light of qualitative evidence demonstrating hat the scheduling of organized activities presents a challenge for middle—class 'lies ('Lareau, 2003; Lareau & Weininger, this volume)? One obvious possibility he quantitative and qualitative research is not in conflict. It is entirely OSSible that children’s organi...
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