Youths’ participation in organized activities has been repeatedly associated with better psychosocial adjustment. However, youth living in more disadvantaged contexts (e.g., lower-income, dangerous neighborhoods) have less access to organized activities. The current study aimed to compare hobbies and organized activities, in terms of their accessibility and associations with social functioning with peers, using a social ecological framework. We also examined the conditional effects of family and neighborhood disadvantage for the associations between activity engagement and peer functioning.
Participants were 91 predominantly African American, urban-dwelling middle school girls (Mage = 12.43) and their primary caregivers. Dyads completed separate interviews and questionnaires on activity engagement, family and neighborhood disadvantage, and social functioning with peers.
Results suggest that hobbies are a distinct facet of activity engagement that might be more widely accessible than organized activities. Greater involvement in hobbies and organized activities showed unique associations with indices of better peer functioning. Moreover, some of these associations were stronger for youth living in more disadvantaged contexts.
This study advances the understanding of an important yet neglected topic within the adolescent development literature on activity research, namely differential access to opportunities among ethnic minority youth. Results suggest that hobby engagement is an important aspect of activity engagement with social benefits, especially for youth living in more disadvantaged contexts. Further investigation is warranted to understand the range of potential benefits of youths’ hobby involvement.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Aizer, A. (2004). Home alone: supervision after school and child behavior. Journal of Public Economics, 88, 1835–1848. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0047-2727(03)00022-7.
Allen, J. P., Chango, J., & Szwedo, D. (2014). The adolescent relational dialectic and the peer roots of adult social functioning. Child Development, 85, 192–204. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12106.
American Psychological Association. (2007). Report of the APA task force on socioeconomic status. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Barber, B. L., Eccles, J. S., & Stone, M. R. (2001). Whatever happened to the jock, the brain, and the princess? Young adult pathways linked to adolescent activity involvement and social identity. Journal of Adolescent Research, 16, 429–455. https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558401165002.
Bohnert, A. M., Fredricks, J., & Randall, E. (2010). Capturing unique dimensions of youth organized activity involvement: theoretical and methodological considerations. Review of Educational Research, 80, 576–610. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654310364533.
Bohnert, A. M., Kane, P., & Garber, J. (2008). Organized activity participation and internalizing and externalizing symptoms: reciprocal relations during adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37, 239–250. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-007-9195-1.
Bohnert, A. M., Richards, M., Kohl, K., & Randall, E. (2009). Relationships between discretionary time activities, emotional experiences, delinquency and depressive symptoms among urban African American adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38, 587–601. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-008-9336-1.
Bohnert, A. M., Richards, M., Kolmodin, K. E., & Lakin, B. L. (2008). Young urban African American adolescents’ discretionary time activities. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 18, 517–539. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2008.00569.x.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Brooks, R. (2003). Self-worth, resilience and hope: the search for islands of competence. http://www.cdl.org/articles/self-worth-resilience-and-hope-the-search-for-islands-of-competence/.
Brooks, R. (2005). The search for islands of competence: a metaphor of hope and strength. http://www.drrobertbrooks.com/monthly_articles/0506.
Brooks, B. A., Floyd, F., Robins, D. L., & Chan, W. Y. (2015). Extracurricular activities and the development of social skills in children with intellectual and specific learning disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 59, 678–687. https://doi.org/10.1111/jir.12171.
Buhrmester, D., & Furman, W. (2008). The network of relationships invetory: Relationship qualities version. Unpublished measure, University of Texas at Dallas. https://doi.org/10.13072/midss.387.
Buhrmester, D., Furman, W., Wittenberg, M. T., & Reis, H. T. (1988). Five domains of interpersonal competence in peer relations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 991–1008. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1991.
Busseri, M. A., & Rose-Krasnor, L. (2009). Breadth and intensity: salient, separable, and developmentally significant dimensions of structured youth activity involvement. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 27, 907–933. https://doi.org/10.1348/026151008X397017.
Cauce, A. M., Cruz, R., Corona, M., & Conger, R. (2011). The face of the future: risk and resilience in minority youth. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 57, 13–32. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-7092-3_2.
Coll, C. G., Crnic, K., Lamberty, G., Wasik, B. H., Jenkins, R., Garcia, H. V., & McAdoo, H. P. (1996). An integrative model for the study of developmental competencies in minority children. Child Development, 67, 1891–1914. https://doi.org/10.2307/1131600.
Coulton, C., & Irwin, M. (2009). Parental and community level correlates of participation in out-of-school activities among children living in low income neighborhoods. Children and Youth Services Review, 31, 300–308. 1016/j.childyouth.2008.08.003.
Covay, E., & Carbonaro, W. (2010). After the bell: participation in extracurricular activities, classroom behavior, and academic achievement. Sociology of Education, 83, 20–45. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038040709356565.
Csıkszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Happiness and creativity: going with the flow. The Futurist, 31, 8–12.
Darling, N. (2005). Participation in extracurricular activities and adolescent adjustment: cross-sectional and longitudinal findings. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 34, 493–505. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-005-7266-8.
Dekeyser, M., Raes, F., Leijssen, M., Leysen, S., & Dewulf, D. (2008). Mindfulness skills and interpersonal behaviour. Personality and Individual Differences, 44, 1235–1245. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2007.11.018.
Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., & Pachan, M. (2010). A meta-analysis of after-school programs that seek to promote personal and social skills in children and adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 294–309. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-010-9300-6.
Farb, A. F., & Matjasko, J. L. (2012). Recent advances in research on school-based extracurricular activities and adolescent development. Developmental Review, 32, 1–48. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2011.10.001.
Fergus, S., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2005). Adolescent resilience: a framework for understanding healthy development in the face of risk. Annual Review Public Health, 26, 399–419. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.publhealth.26.021304.144357.
Fredricks, J., & Eccles, J. (2006). Extracurricular involvement and adolescent adjustment: Impact of duration, number of activities, and breadth of participation. Applied Developmental Science, 10, 132–146. https://doi.org/10.1207/s1532480xads1003_3.
Fredricks, J., & Eccles, J. (2008). Participation in extracurricular activities in the middle school years: are there developmental benefits for African American and European American youth? Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37, 1029–1043. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-008-9309-4.
Fredricks, J. A., & Simpkins, S. D. (2013). Organized out‐of‐school activities and peer relationships: theoretical perspectives and previous research. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 2013(140), 1–17.https://doi.org/10.1002/cad.20034.
Furman, W., & Buhrmester, D. (1992). Age and sex differences in perceptions of networks of personal relationships. Child Development, 63, 103–115. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.1992.tb03599.x.
Furman, W., Dunn, C., & Young, B. (2009). The role of peer and romantic relationships in adolescent affective development. In N. B. Allen & L. Sheeber (Eds.), Adolescent emotional development and the emergence of depressive disorders. New York: Guilford Press.
Ge, X., Natsuaki, M. N., & Conger, R. D. (2006). Trajectories of depressive symptoms and stressful life events among male and female adolescents in divorced and nondivorced families. Development and Psychopathology, 18, 253–273. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579406060147.
Goodman, R. (2001). Psychometric properties of the strengths and difficulties questionnaire. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 1337–1345. https://doi.org/10.1097/00004583-200111000-00015.
Hafen, C. A., Laursen, B., & Delay, D. (2012). Transformations in friend relationships across the transition into adolescence. In B. Laursen & W. A. Collins (Eds.), Relationships pathways: From adolescence to young adulthood (pp. 69–89). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. 10.4135/9781452240565.n4.
Hayes, A. F. (2018). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach (2nd edn). New York: Guilford Press.
Klinker, C. D., Schipperijn, J., Christian, H., Kerr, J., Ersbøll, A. K., & Troelsen, J. (2014). Using accelerometers and global positioning system devices to assess gender and age differences in children’s school, transport, leisure and home based physical activity. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 11, 8. https://doi.org/10.1186/1479-5868-11-8.
Larson, R., Richards, M., Moneta, G., Holmbeck, G., & Duckett, E. (1996). Changes in adolescents’ daily interactions with their families from ages 10–18: disengagement and transformation. Developmental Psychology, 32, 744–754. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-16188.8.131.524.
Laursen, B. & Collins, W. A. (Eds.) (2011). Relationship pathways: From adolescence to young adulthood. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. 10.4135/9781452240565.n4.
Laursen, B., & Pursell, G. (2009). Conflict in peer relationships. In K. H. Rubin, W. M. Bukowski & B. Laursen (Eds.), Social, emotional, and personality development in context. Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups (pp. 267–286). New York: Guilford Press.
Lin, T. H. (2010). A comparison of multiple imputation with EM algorithm and MCMC method for quality of life missing data. Quality & Quantity, 44, 227–287. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11135-008-9196-5.
Lobel, A., Engels, R. C., Stone, L. L., Burk, W. J., & Granic, I. (2017). Video gaming and children’s psychosocial wellbeing: a longitudinal study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46, 884–897. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0646-z.
Lopes, P. N., Salovey, P., Côté, S., Beers, M., & Petty, R. E. (2005). Emotion regulation abilities and the quality of social interaction. Emotion, 5, 113–118. https://doi.org/10.1037/1528-35184.108.40.206.
Mahoney, J. L. (2000). School extracurricular activity participation as a moderator in the development of antisocial patterns. Child Development, 71, 502–516. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00160.
Mahoney, J. L., Cairns, B. D., & Farmer, T. W. (2003). Promoting interpersonal competence and educational success through extracurricular activity participation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 409–418. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-06220.127.116.119.
Marsh, H. W., & Kleitman, S. (2002). Extracurricular school activities: the good, the bad, and the nonlinear. Harvard Educational Review, 72, 464–511. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.72.4.051388703v7v7736.
Masten, A. S., & Coatsworth, J. D. (1998). The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments. Lessons from Research on Successful Children American Psychologist, 53, 205–220. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.53.2.205.
Matheny, A. P., Wachs, T. D., Ludwig, J. L., & Phillips, K. (1995). Bringing order out of chaos: psychometric characteristics of the confusion, hubbub, and order scale. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 16, 429–444. https://doi.org/10.1016/0193-3973(95)90028-4.
McGee, R., Feehan, M., Williams, S., Partridge, F., Silva, P. A., & Kelly, J. (1990). DSM-III disorders in a large sample of adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 29, 611–619. https://doi.org/10.1097/00004583-199007000-00016.
McHale, S. M., Crouter, A. C., & Trucker, C. J. (2001). Free-time activities in middle childhood: links with adjustment in early adolescence. Child Development, 72, 1764–1778. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00377.
Meece, D., Pettit, G., Mize, J., & Hayes, M. (1998). What do young adolescents do when school let’s out? Discretionary time use and its relation to school adjustment. ERIC Reports. https://www.thefreelibrary.com/What+Do+Young+Adolescents+Do+When+School+Let%27s+Out%3f+Discretionary…-a0192423793.
Mu, S. K., & Zhou, W. (2011). Handling missing data: expectation—maximization algorithm and Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm. Advances in Psychological Science, 19, 1083–1090. https://doi.org/10.17576/mjas-2017-2103-05.
Nolen-Hoeksema, S., & Morrow, J. (1993). Effects of rumination and distraction on naturally occurring depressed mood. Cognition and Emotion, 7, 561–570. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699939308409206.
Pedersen, S. (2005). Urban adolescents’ out-of-school activity profiles: associations with youth, family, and school transition characteristics. Applied Developmental Science, 9, 107–124. https://doi.org/10.1207/s1532480xads0902_5.
Posner, J. K., & Vandell, D. L. (1999). After-school activities and the development of low-income urban children: a longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 35, 868–879. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1618.104.22.1688.
Quane, J. M., & Rankin, B. (2006). Does it pay to participate? Neighborhood-based organizations and the social development of urban adolescents. Children & Youth Services Review, 28, 1229–1250. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2006.01.004.
Ramey, H. L., & Rose-Krasnor, L. (2012). Contexts of structured youth activities and positive youth development. Child Development Perspectives, 6, 85–91. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-8606.2011.00219.x.
Randall, E. T., & Bohnert, A. M. (2009). Organized activity involvement, depressive symptoms, and social adjustment in adolescents: ethnicity and socioeconomic status as moderators. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38, 1187–1198. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-009-9417-9.
Randall, E. T., & Bohnert, A. M. (2012). Understanding threshold effects of organized activity involvement in adolescents: sex and family income as moderators. Journal of Adolescence, 35, 107–118. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2011.05.004.
Randall, E. T., Bohnert, A. M., & Travers, L. V. (2015). Understanding affluent adolescent adjustment: the interplay of parental perfectionism, perceived parental pressure, and organized activity involvement. Journal of Adolescence, 41, 56–66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2015.03.005.
Richards, M. H., Larson, R., Miller, B. V., Luo, Z., Sims, B., Parrella, D. P., & McCauley, C. (2004). Risky and protective contexts and exposure to violence in urban African American young adolescents. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33, 138–148. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15374424JCCP3301_13.
Ross, C. E., & Mirowsky, J. (2001). Neighborhood disadvantage, disorder, and health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 258–276. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3090214.
Sameroff, A. J., Seifer, R., Baldwin, A., & Baldwin, C. (1993). Stability of intelligence from preschool to adolescence: the influence of social and family risk factors. Child Development, 64, 80–97. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.1993.tb02896.x.
Smith, K. (1997). Who’s minding the kids? Washington, DC: Census Bureau.
Stebbins, R. A. (1982). Serious leisure: a conceptual statement. Pacific Sociological Review, 25, 251–72. https://doi.org/10.2307/1388726.
Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2013). Using multivariate statistics (6th edn). Boston: Pearson.
Urban, J. B., Lewin-Bizan, S., & Lerner, R. M. (2009). The role of neighborhood ecological assets and activity involvement in youth developmental outcomes: differential impacts of asset poor and asset rich neighborhoods. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30, 601–614. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2009.07.003.
U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (2018). Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Washington, DC. Retrieved from https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/federal-poverty-level-fpl/.
Vandell, D. L., Larson, R. W., Mahoney, J. L., & Watts, T. W. (2015). Children’s organized activities. In R. M. Lerner (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science (Vol. 4; pp. 1–40). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Vander Stoep, A., McCauley, E., Flynn, C., & Stone, A. (2009). Thoughts of death and suicide in early adolescence. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 39, 599 https://doi.org/10.1521/suli.2009.39.6.599.
Veenstra, R., & Dijkstra, J. K. (2011). Transformations in adolescent peer networks. In B. Laursen & W. A. Collins (eds.), Relationship pathways: From adolescence to young adulthood (pp. 135–154). New York: Sage. 10.4135/9781452240565.n7.
Wu, N., Lester, P., Jiang, L., Weiss, R., Slocum, S. L., & Rotheram-Borus, M. J. (2005). Problematic substance use among adolescents in HIV-affected families. Center for Community Health, University of California, Los Angeles. Annual Meeting of the American. Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
This study was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health to Valerie Simon (HD61230).
D.B.S. collaborated with the design of the study, completed with the data analyses, and wrote the paper. V.A.S designed and executed the study, collaborated with the data analyses, writing, and editing of the manuscript.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The study described received full IRB approval through Wayne State University and the sample was treated in compliance with APA ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Steinberg, D.B., Simon, V.A. A Comparison of Hobbies and Organized Activities among Low Income Urban Adolescents. J Child Fam Stud 28, 1182–1195 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-019-01365-0
- Early adolescence
- Activity engagement
- Neighborhood disadvantage
- Low income
- Peer functioning.