Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 340-353

First online:

Individual Motivation and Parental Influence on Adolescents’ Experiences of Interest in Free Time: A Longitudinal Examination

  • Erin Hiley SharpAffiliated withDepartment of Human Development and Family Studies at The Pennsylvania State UniversityThe Pennsylvania State University Email author 
  • , Linda L. CaldwellAffiliated withDepartment of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management at The Pennsylvania State University
  • , John W. GrahamAffiliated withDepartment of Biobehavioral Health at The Pennsylvania State University
  • , Ty A. RidenourAffiliated withPrevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development at The Pennsylvania State University

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Time spent in freely chosen leisure activities offers a distinct developmental context that can support positive youth development; however this potential for growth depends in part on adolescent interest and engagement in their free time activities. Research indicates that many adolescents report experiencing boredom, instead of interest, in their free time. This study utilized longitudinal data from 354 rural middle school students to investigate how parenting practices and adolescent motivational styles influence adolescents’ experience of interest in their free time. Findings indicated that adolescent self-regulated motivation and parental knowledge related to the free time context were positively associated with experiences of interest, while adolescent amotivation and parental control were negatively associated with interest in free time. The effect of parental knowledge and parental control on adolescents’ experiences of interest was mediated by adolescent motivational styles. These results were similar across grade level and gender. Implications for interventions promoting positive youth development are discussed.


adolescence leisure motivation parenting time use