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You are here: Home / MPRC People / Sandra Hofferth, Ph.D. / Sandra Hofferth Publications / The "Hurried" Child: Myth vs. Reality

Sandra L Hofferth, David A Kinney, and Janet S Dunn (2009)

The "Hurried" Child: Myth vs. Reality

In: Life Balance: Multidisciplinary Theories and Research, ed. by Kathleen Matuska and Charles Christiansen. AOTA Press and SLACK Inc. , chap. 13, pp. 183-206.

Children’s lives are increasingly structured with extracurricular activities. This research addressed three questions: (1) how active are American children; (2) are there differences by social class in extent of participation in these activities, either within or across communities; and (3) are children over scheduled to the extent that they experience stress symptoms? Data came from a nationally representative survey of children and their families and a qualitative study in two communities in the American Midwest. Only one-quarter of children were “hurried,” half were focused on a single activity or balanced, and 15 percent had no activities. Children of mothers with more education and higher family incomes were busier. However, higher activity levels were not associated with greater stress symptoms. Instead, children who were uninvolved were the most withdrawn, socially immature, and had the lowest self-esteem. Children who were focused or balanced in their activities had the lowest levels of stress and highest self esteem.