Kids Need More Than Sports for Positive Growth

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- If you want your children to flourish, get them involved in extracurricular activities other than sports, new research suggests.

Children in fifth, sixth and seventh grades who took part in both sports and after-school activities such as Boys & Girls Clubs, 4-H or Scouts had the highest scores for "positive development" and the lowest scores for risky and problem behavior, according to a study from Tufts University, published recently in Developmental Psychology.

"Positive development" includes measures of competence, confidence, character, connection and caring, the study authors explained.

About 60 percent of U.S. children participate in at least one sport, making sports the most common after-school activity, according to information in a news release from Tufts.

Although a large body of research suggests that sports participation is associated with psychological well-being, positive social development and higher academic and professional achievement, some research has shown that participation in sports may be linked to some risky behaviors.

The new study, which looked at data on 1,357 adolescents who took part in the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, found that those students who only took part in sports had lower scores on characteristics of "positive development" and higher scores on bullying, substance use and depression than students who also took part in youth development activities.

"Parents should be certain that their teens balance participation in sports and in youth development programs," said Richard Lerner, professor of child development at Tufts University School of Arts and Sciences in Boston. "Participation in even one youth development program may counteract possibly detrimental influences of sport participation on teen emotional and behavioral health, while also enhancing the health and well-being of their sons and daughters."

Youth development programs are after-school activities that involve adult mentorship, life skills training and opportunities for leadership, according to the study.

More information

The National Youth Development Information Center has more on youth development programs.

SOURCE: Tufts University, news release, Aug. 12, 2009

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: The first explosion knocked down a runner at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon.
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
PHOTO: The scene near the finish line of the Boston Marathon is seen in this April 16, 2013 file photo. Inset, suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are seen. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with police and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured.
Elise Amendola/AP Photo; Inset: Lowell Sun, FBI/AP Photo
PHOTO: Pulaski Township Police Sgt. Chad Adam seen here in this undated Facebook photo, went undercover as an Amish woman.
Pulaski Township Police Department/Facebook