Leisure Time Activities in Middle Childhood

Indicators of Positive Development Conference
March 12-13, 2003
Bureau of Labor Statistics Conference Center
Washington, DC


Sandra L. Hofferth and Sally C. Curtin, University of Maryland

This paper focuses on children’s time in leisure activities. We use time diary data from the 1997 Child Development Supplement (CDS) of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to examine the amount of weekday and weekend time that children 6-12 years of age spend in various leisure activities—playing, studying, computer usage, watching television, art, hobbies, sports, reading, time outdoors, church activities, housework, and shopping. Average minutes per day engaged in each activity are presented by gender of the child, as well as by characteristics of the family (whether two parent, the number of children present, and parental education). Finally, the average weekly time spent in these activities is linked to various measures of the child’s cognitive and socio-emotional development. The results indicate that three types of activities—reading, participating in sports, and church activities—are consistently and positively linked to children’s achievement as measured by standardized tests.