Examining Adolescent Leisure Time across Cultures: Developmental Opportunities and Risks

Examining Adolescent Leisure Time across Cultures: Developmental Opportunities and Risks

Examining Adolescent Leisure Time across Cultures: Developmental Opportunities and Risks

Examining Adolescent Leisure Time across Cultures: Developmental Opportunities and Risks


To gain deeper insight into the developmental opportunities and risks that adolescents experience in their free time, this volume explores adolescents' daily leisure experience across countries. Each chapter describes the sociocultural contexts in which adolescents live, along with a profile of free-time activities. Collectively, the chapters highlight the differences and similarities between cultures; how family, peers, and wider social factors influence the use of free time; which societies provide more freedom and at what costs; and how adolescents cope with restricted degrees of freedom and with what consequences on their mental health and well-being.

Adolescence worldwide is a life period of role restructuring and social learning. Free-time activities provide opportunities to experiment with roles and develop new adaptive strategies and other interpersonal skills that have an impact on development, socialization, and the transition to adulthood. Leisure provides a rich context in which adolescents can gain control over their attentional processes and learn from relationships with peers, but it also has potential costs, such as involvement in deviant and risk behaviors. This volume is a valuable contribution to the research and discussion of this critical topic.

This is the 99th volume in the Jossey-Bass quarterly report series New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development.


Meery Lee

The pressures of a nationwide university entrance
examination consume Korean adolescents’ energies and
limit their free time, resulting in passive leisure that is
associated with depression and aggressive behavior

A 15-year-old girl’s daily life is a vivid testimony to the hardships the Korean
high school student is faced with. She leaves home for school at 7 A.M., taking
two lunch bags, one for supper, with her. After regular classes end at 5 P.M.,
she attends the “autonomous study classes” studying by herself until 10
P.M. The exhausted young girl returns home at about 10:30 P.M. and gets to
bed around midnight at the earliest. Under the current system, this will be her
life for three years. Of course, there is no guarantee she will be able to enter
the university she wants. She has no family life, except for Sundays, and they
hardly ever see each other, let alone get together at the dining table for dinner.
People call this “ipsi chiok,” entrance examination hell. [“High School
Students Deprived of Spring,” 1996, p. 13]

In their traditional agricultural society, the Korean people valued active leisure activities, such as group dancing, singing, and praying for a good harvest. Youth enjoyed sports and cultural leisure activities, such as chukuk (a boys’ group game that involves kicking a ball made of straw), archery, writing poetry, drawing, and sewing (Youn, 1996). Such traditional active freetime activities played important roles for social unification, education, cultural transmission, and the solution of social problems (Leisure Culture Research, 1996). Although there were differences in the types of leisure activities that people engaged in according to sex, age, and social class, the critical point is that ancient Korean people enjoyed active leisure (Yun, 1996).

During the Chosun dynasty (1392–1910), enforced Confucian ideals, followed by forced modernization from Western and Japanese imperialism, led to severe cultural disruption and social instability. As a product of this change, Korean society came to place a high value on education for the next . . .

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