Predicting Youth Participation in Extracurricular Recreational Activities: Relationships with Individual, Parent, and Family Characteristics


  • Lynn A. Barnett


Extracurricular activities, activity participation, types of activities, gender, family characteristics, parent characteristics


The importance of participating in extracurricular activities for adolescents and youth has been extensively investigated and confirmed, yet much less is known about what influences youth to participate and parents to enroll their child in different types of programs. This study of 216 sixth-grade youth collected comprehensive histories of extracurricular activity participation and investigated relationships with individual (gender, preschool experience), familial (parent in home, siblings, income), and parental characteristics (mother and father working hours, occupational status, educational level) to determine the extent to which each of these variables predicted youth involvement. The degree of participation in extracurricular activities was measured as both breadth (number of activities) and time (frequency of participation). Participation patterns were determined for four types of activity programs (team sports, individual sports, performing arts, community clubs, and activities) and composite measures of the extent of involvement were also scrutinized. The findings revealed strong differences between males and females and also between the four types of activities in terms of which factors were important predictors of participation.These data provide implications for learning more about the types of participants who are most likely to participate in different recreational programs, and for using this information to better design and market such programs. The data in this study provides detailed information about who is most likely to seek and participate in these programs. In addition, it is reasonable to posit that certain types of activity programs might be better able to attract and retain youth with certain interests and backgrounds. The information presented in this research is informative about which characteristics best predict participation in which types of activity programs. This is deemed to be a major benefit to agencies and other providers, especially with a population that has been generally regarded to be a more challenging constituency with lower rates of participation.?