Young people on the go! Study of young people’s leisure activities 2013

Sami Myllyniemi & Päivi Berg:Young people on the go! Study of young people’s leisure activities 2013

(In Finnish: Nuoria liikkeellä! Nuorten vapaa-aikatutkimus 2013)


This publication examines young people’s leisure activities. The results are based on a total of 1,205 interviews of 7–29 year-olds living in Finland that were conducted in December 2012. The publication is part of the Study of young people’s leisure activities research series, carried out every three years, that explores young people’s friendships, activities in organisations as well as their hobbies. This time, however, the main theme of research was physical exercise and activity in its various forms.

More than half of the 7–29 year-olds meet their friends on a daily basis, and almost all of them meet their friends at least weekly. The frequency of meeting up with friends decreases clearly with age. More than half of the respondents are also in daily contact with their friends by phone or over the internet. The peak frequency of contacts by phone and over the internet occurs in the age group of 15–19 year-olds. In addition to the frequency of meetings, the number of close friends was determined and found to be an average of about six, slightly more among boys than among girls.

The most common places for meeting up with friends were one’s own home or a friend’s home. In the case of daily meetings, however, the internet is more common. Meeting up through common hobbies, at youth centres and at libraries occurs most among 10–14 year-olds. The internet is at its most important as an arena for socialising in the age group of 15–19 year-olds, but the peak for meeting up on the streets also occurs in this age group. The most passive young people in terms of physical activity are the ones who are most active in meeting their friends over the internet.

An average of 1.5 hours per day is spent watching television. Unemployed young people watch TV especially much. Spending a lot of time on the computer is more strongly associated with a scarcity of physical activity than is spending a lot of time watching TV. A clear majority of children and young people spend more time at the screen than the recommended two-hour daily limit for total screen time. A long screen time is associated with less physical activity and lower satisfaction with one’s own fitness and health.

The majority experience the amount of leisure as suitable. The amount of leisure, however, becomes scarcer from about the age of 15 onwards. Young people who work or families with children feel that their leisure is particularly scarce. Young people who have less leisure have fewer hobbies, and they also exercise less in sport clubs and meet up with their friends less frequently. A scarcity of leisure limits social life and hobbies.

Throughout the age group of 7–29 year-olds, 85 per cent have a hobby. The share of young people with hobbies is at its lowest between the ages of 15 and 19 years, but it begins to increase again after around 20. 53 per cent of the young people take part in the activities of, or belong to, organisations. Little change in this regard has occurred since 1998.

86 per cent of the respondents go in for some sort of physical exercise. A physical exercise hobby is the most common in the age group of 10–14 year-olds. About one-third engage in physical activity, lasting for at least half an hour and leading to shortness of breath and sweating, at least five times a week. The regularity of physical activity drops clearly among teenagers, especially boys. 71 per cent of the respondents are of the opinion that they are physically active enough. Physical exercise done about four times per week is considered to be enough. The most popular forms of physical exercise include jogging, training at the gym, cycling, walking, floorball, football, running, swimming and skiing. The popularity of independent physical activity increases with age.

Independent physical exercise accounts for the majority of all physical exercise. 41 per cent of the respondents exercise alone and independently on a daily basis, and three out of four exercise at least once a week. 22 per cent exercise independently with friends on a daily basis, and clearly more than half exercise at least once a week. About one-third exercise at sports clubs at least once a week, and more than one-quarter exercise at municipal or commercial sports services.

The reasons for having a leisure sports activity emphasise the wish to stay healthy, the wish to be physically fit, and the joy of exercising. Other important motives for physical exercise are self-development and the thrills of succeeding, and of social reasons, the opportunity to spend time with friends while exercising in physical activity – and the chance for privacy and being alone. The most common obstacles to physical exercise, in turn, are lack of time, a dislike of physical exercise, the lack of suitable sports activities or sports facilities, and the high cost of physical activities. One-third of the respondents have stopped physical activity at a sports club. The main reasons for stopping were that other things started to be more interesting or that the hobby took too much time, as well as the excessive competitiveness of the activity.

One-third of the respondents would like to start physical exercise at a sports club as a hobby. Examined by age, the wish to begin occurred especially among those under 15 years old. The wish to go to a sports club is relatively low if the respondent has no previous experience of this. Both girls and boys would like to engage especially in football, floorball, martial arts, swimming, volleyball, athletics and ice hockey at a sports club.

One-quarter of the parents of the children and young people are involved in volunteering associated with organised sports activities. The parents of 10–14 year-olds, in particular, are active in this regard. Of parents whose child engage in organised sports activities at a sports club almost every day, as many as 65 per cent do volunteering associated with these activities in one way or another. The most common forms of volunteering are voluntary work and acting as an official. Especially the parents who do voluntary work and act as an official are primarily parents from wealthier families. Also, the mother’s high level of education increases the likelihood of volunteering associated with organised sports activities. 18 per cent of the 10–29 year-olds had themselves been involved in volunteering associated with organised sports activities, for instance as a coach or doing voluntary work.