Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Leisure Boredom and Substance Use among High School Students in South Africa

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Leisure Boredom and Substance Use among High School Students in South Africa

Article excerpt


There is a distinct paucity of leisure research in developing countries such as South Africa. Because of this country's unique historical, political and socio-cultural context, it is important that culturally relevant research be undertaken in order to establish knowledge that has implications for leisure policies and service provision. Furthermore, one cannot assume that research findings from studies carried out in developed countries can be generalized to people living within the context of a developing country, particularly South Africa with its history of apartheid.

Substance use among adolescents, who comprise 21% of the South African population (Dickson-Tetteh & Ladha, 2000), is an increasing problem in South Africa. A study of 2,930 school-going adolescents reported prevalence rates for previous month (or recent) substance use to be 31% for alcohol, 27% for tobacco, and 7% for cannabis (Flisher, Parry, Evans, Muller, & Lombard, 2003). The average age of people treated for cannabis abuse is 19-24 years, and the majority are male (Myers & Parry, 2003). A study of 7,340 high school students in Cape Town found evidence for a syndrome of adolescent risk behaviour which included alcohol and drug use, having experienced sexual intercourse, general deviance, suicidal behaviour and behaviour that exposed the adolescent to injury (Flisher, Ziervogel, Chalton, Leger, & Robertson, 1996). There is a need for further investigation into problems related to substance abuse among adolescents because of the threats to personal health and well being, as well as the demands placed on health, welfare and education systems that have implications for society and the economy in general.

Boredom has been found to be related to substance abuse (Iso-Ahola & Crowley, 1991; Ziervogel, Ahmed, Flisher, 8c Robertson, 1998); however, no previous research in South Africa has investigated the extent of leisure boredom among adolescents. Furthermore, the association between leisure boredom, demographic factors and substance use has not been determined. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between leisure boredom, cultural and demographic characteristics and substance use among high-school students. The study was conducted in Cape Town, one of South Africa's largest cities where people from a diverse range of ethnic, cultural and socio-economic groups reside. The following research questions were addressed. First, what is the extent of leisure boredom experienced by high school students? Second, is there an association between leisure boredom, gender, age and race? Third, is there an association between leisure boredom and substance use?

Literature Review

Leisure Boredom in Relation to Race, Gender, and Age

Social learning theory proposed that behavior is determined by an interaction between social and environmental influences, and cognitive mediators such as beliefs and self-efficacy (Bandura, 1986). It is therefore important to consider how factors such as race, gender and age influence leisure boredom. Philipp (1998) urged researchers investigating adolescent leisure not to ignore the influence of both gender and race, since these have been shown to impact young people's leisure preferences (Busser, Hyams, & Carruthers, 1996; Shinew, Floyd, & Parry, 2004). McMeeking and Purkayastha (1995) studied three groups of adolescents from urban (inner-city), suburban and semi-rural settings and found a complex interplay between leisure constraints, race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, age and gender. These constraints could have resulted in less than optimal leisure experiences, and may have contributed to feelings of dissatisfaction and boredom. In South Africa, a legacy of apartheid and racial discrimination has meant that many adolescents presently living in impoverished social and environmental contexts are Black and Colored.1 This implies that race continues to be a strong indicator for socio-economic status in South Africa. …

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