Breadth of Participation in Organized and Unstructured Leisure Activities Over Time and Rural Adolescents’ Functioning


Discretionary time outside of school offers a distinct context that can promote adolescent development; however, potential for growth depends in part on how this time is used. In this study, person-centered analyses were used to examine patterns of breadth of participation in both organized and unstructured leisure activities among rural adolescents (N = 276, 49 % female) across grades 7, 8, and 10. Adjusting for self-selection factors, the study associated these patterns with 10th grade outcomes. Three profiles of participation emerged: consistently low breadth, consistently average breadth, and consistently high breadth of involvement in both organized and unstructured leisure activities over time. The most popular activity types across profile groups were hanging out with friends, team sports, and outdoor activities. Adolescents involved in a greater breadth of organized activities reported the greatest breadth of involvement in unstructured leisure and the best functioning. Adolescents with low breadth of involvement in both organized and unstructured leisure activities consistently showed poorer outcomes. Adolescents in the high breadth of involvement profile were engaged in all activity types at higher rates than adolescents in the average and low breadth of involvement profiles. We advocate for continued efforts to increase adolescent participation in a variety of different types of out-of-school activities.


Family Studies, Sociology

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Youth and Adolescence



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type



c Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014