This article employs data from two studies to examine the hypothesis that structured leisure activities, such as music, sports and creative activities, provide an important context for young adolescents’ development of the capacity to direct and control attention. Study 1 examines age differences in the contexts where young adolescents experience “paying attention,” employing time sampling data from 483 fifth to ninth graders. Findings show that between fifth to ninth grade “paying attention” is experienced less frequently during “other-controlled” activities, such as schoolwork and watching TV, and more frequently during self-controlled leisure contexts, particularly during talk. Study 2 uses data from interviews with 207 young adolescents to investigate their psychological knowledge in leisure and non-leisure contexts and examine how this knowledge changes with age. Findings indicate that structured leisure activities are a major context for adolescents’ understanding of attention, though contrary to expectation these contexts do not become more salient with age. While not conclusive, the study suggests that structured leisure provides opportunities, not readily available in other domains, for the development of voluntary control of attention.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science