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Seminar: Continuity and Change in Children's Time Use Trajectories

Liana C. Sayer, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Maryland
When Nov 18, 2013
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where 0124B Cole Student Activities Building
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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About the Talk

How children spend their time is an expression of children’s disparate opportunities to develop physical, cognitive, and social competencies. Children with a greater breadth of activities and those who spend more time in activities that collectively foster physical, cognitive, and social competencies develop more self-efficacy and confidence. These differences in time use mirror variation by gender and SES in educational, employment, social, and health outcomes in early adulthood. Low SES parents are less likely than higher SES parents to direct children into adult-structured activities that facilitate positive development and to role model societally valued behaviors, like reading, exercise, and regular employment, meal and sleep patterns. Class-differentiated time use patterns are theorized to convey enduring advantages and disadvantages to children as they mature and negotiate new environments and activities (Lareau 2003) and research has begun to examine how time in specific activities is linked with SES gradients in outcomes. However, much remains unknown about how continuity and change in childhood time use patterns across their developmental transitions intersect with trajectories of adolescent and young adult well-being, and how this varies by gender and class. Most research on children’s time use and well-being examines only the most ubiquitous active and sedentary leisure activities (e.g. sports and television), yet this approach overlooks how these activities are combined with other activities into comprehensive time use “lifestyles” that capture offsetting influences of activities and exposure across a variety of social contexts. Improved understanding of continuity and change in children’s time use trajectories, and how trajectories are associated with adolescent and adult well-being can reveal how and when differences are due to children’s developmental stage, economic resources, and/or interrelated gendered and classed family processes (Crosnoe and Cavanagh 2010). This paper is a first step in addressing gaps in our understanding of why, in what circumstances, and for what types of children time use influences well-being across the life course. We build on prior work using three waves of data from the PSID-CDS to examine 1) whether and how preferences for specific types of time use become habituated over children’s developmental transitions into persistent daily routines, and 2) how gender and class related patterns of advantage and disadvantage influence time use trajectories from childhood to young adulthood.

About the Speaker

Liana C. Sayer

Liana C. Sayer is Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Maryland Time Use Laboratory.  Professor Sayer’s current research involves time use as a pathway of gender, class, and racial-ethnic stratification; comparative determinants, patterns and consequences of gendered work / family practices; associations of economic resources with gendered work / family practices and relationship quality.  Her research interests are gender, race, and class inequality; time use and well-being; gendered relationship dynamics and outcomes.  

Visit Professor Sayer's webpage 

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