Why should we invest in our children’s physical activities? Or what should we invest in? Other than the physical health aspect of keeping active, are there other benefits that activities have? And wouldn’t kids just end up doing the same thing if we didn’t encourage them to do so or invest in them financially?
In a recent study (Ben-Eliyahu, Rhodes, & Scales, 2013) published in the academic journal, Applied Developmental Science, my coauthors and I asked two questions:
Are there benefits for youth when they are involved in activities that they are passionate about, find great interest in and provide energy, joy, purpose, and direction? These activities are called “interest-driven activities.”
Youth who are involved in interest-driven activities have higher grades, exert more effort in school, are more civically engaged, care for the social good, and tend to be leaders.
Who supports youth involvement in such interest-driven activities? Our findings were robust!
Youth who are involved in impassioned interest-driven activities have higher grades, exert more effort in school, are more focused on learning, are more civically engaged, care for the social good, and are leaders. They are more hopeful, worry less, and have a positive outlook of the future.
We also found that active children enjoy support from caring adults in the form of transportation, encouragement, and financial resources for involvement in their activity.
In comparing the different levels of impassioned interests, within the group of students who had a high level of interest-driven activities, more youth were involved in active pursuits such as sports, dance, drama, music and art.