Adolescent Leisure from a Developmental and Prevention Perspective

  • Linda L. CaldwellEmail author
  • Monique Faulk


This chapter will examine adolescent leisure from a prevention perspective and will cover two main topics. First, we will address the paradox of how leisure may contribute to adolescent development, health, and well-being but how it also may be a context for risk behavior. Next, we will address the need for leisure education as a means to promote development, health, and well-being and prevent risk behavior. In addressing these two broad topics, we will review current literature and suggest where gaps in knowledge currently exist.

Leisure is a powerful context in which adolescent development may occur. It offers myriad opportunities for the development of many important tasks in adolescence such as identity and autonomy development, experimentation, and development of competence and initiative. It is also a context to promote physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual health and well-being. At the same time, as a context of relative freedom, decreased direct parental control, and increased importance of and access to peers, leisure also affords opportunities to engage in risk behaviors such as vandalism, sexual risk, and substance misuse.

Prevention science, a relatively young science, focuses on both promotion of health and well-being and prevention of risk. Thus, it naturally provides a framework in which to address the paradox of leisure. Although leisure can be a context for risk behavior, from a prevention perspective, adolescents can be taught the importance of making healthy choices to reap the benefits of leisure and avoid potentially risky behaviors. Leisure education serves to promote self-awareness of the need to gain healthy benefits from leisure (both serious and casual), understand the value of leisure and in particular intrinsically motivated leisure, develop interests, find leisure resources, understand how to plan for and make good decisions about leisure, and overcome constraints that may impede participation and positive experience.

Two prevention-focused leisure education programs, TimeWise: Taking Charge of Leisure Time and HealthWise South Africa: Life Skills for Young Adults, have shown promising evidence that universal prevention programs for middle- or high-school-aged youth can be effective in promoting health and preventing risk. These will be briefly described as examples of how leisure education can be a tool for prevention.


Sexual Risk Leisure Time Leisure Activity Adolescent Development Routine Activity Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism ManagementPenn State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.USC Hybrid High SchoolUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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