A close look at participation in hobby activities. A study of children’s and young people’s leisure activities in 2020

Mikko Salasuo (ed.)


The cross-cutting theme of the study of children’s and young people’s leisure activities in 2020 is participation in hobby activities. The subject is discussed in a comprehensive statistical section and in four articles. The statistical section focuses on children’s and young people’s participation in culture, arts and media activities. Physical activities have remained on the side lines this time, as this subject was discussed extensively in the 2018 survey. The research and background articles deal with the following subjects: the discussion of the social importance of hobbies that took place after the wars, children’s music fandom, young people as an audience in the consumption of music and the ideals of doing things for fun in written memos.

The study is informed by and discusses the principles of the Youth Act (2016). Reflected in the background is the renewal of young people’s hobby culture, which in this context means the planning and implementation of the ‘Finnish model’ for leisure activities that is taking place within the government. The study gives participation in hobbies a broad definition, which includes both self-motivated and guided activities.

The statistical section and research articles are based on 1,402 telephone interviews that were carried out in early 2020. In the interviews, children and young people aged 7–29 were asked about their hobbies and how they spend their leisure time. The views of the children’s parents are also included in the study, as they were also asked questions about their children’s leisure time and participation in hobbies. Data from previous studies of leisure activities make it possible to form time series for certain themes, which are used to examine longer-term changes in children’s and young people’s participation in hobbies.

The common thread throughout the statistical section is formed of 12 themed subchapters. The analysis starts off with a broad theme, which deals with children’s and young people’s hobbies, the prevalence of hobbies and the sufficiency of leisure time. The second chapter deals with children’s and young people’s social contacts, the forms of these contacts and their regularity. It examines, among other things, the prevalence of contacts between young people and the methods used, and social media as a channel of communication.

In the third chapter, the picture that emerges of children’s and young people’s media use indicates that the rate of change has been astoundingly fast in recent years. There is also a flip side to this rapid rate of change. The fourth theme concerns arguments in families caused by gaming and the use of the internet, and the methods used by parents to regulate their children’s use of digital media with technical tools. Chapter five deals with a subject that has been discussed a lot in the media, as the analysis deals with bullying, discrimination and inappropriate treatment experienced by children and young people in their leisure activities. This subject was also discussed extensively in the 2018 survey, as one of its themes was the inappropriate treatment of young people participating in physical activities and sports.

The sixth theme covers children’s and young people’s ‘screen time’ and listening to music. This is followed by a chapter on internet use and habits of use. Contents that are consumed and produced are also discussed in this chapter. The young people were also asked about completely new subjects, such as following YouTubers. Chapter 8 deals with consumption of and participation in live music, which is undergoing a radical change. A lot of live music is on offer in large towns, but these places are also in the midst of radical change as the consumption habits of young people now focus on major events while smaller events struggle for survival. This topic is also discussed in a research article by Homi et al.

Music is also the theme of chapter nine, which focuses on children’s and young people’s music fandom. This is a new subject in the study of leisure activities and the subject is also discussed in a research article by Janne Poikolainen. Chapter ten also has links to youth and popular culture, as the chapter deals with young people’s body culture, which in this study means earrings, piercings and tattoos and their popularity and the meanings attributed to them. The results show that the tattoo boom, which started slowly in Finland, continued to grow in the 2010s, and young people attach very personal meanings to ‘images’.

At the end of the statistical section, we return to the roots of the study of leisure activities in a discussion of results concerning young people's commitment to NGOs. A time series makes it possible to investigate the subject throughout the 2000s, and even longer-term trend data is discernible from national surveys on the hobbies and time use of young people in the 1950s and 1960s. The final theme is the satisfaction of children and young people with various areas of life. The results show that in general, children and young people are fairly satisfied with their lives, social relationships, leisure time and health.

The study of children's and young people's leisure activities in 2020 is broader and more diverse than the earlier studies. As a result, it is now an even more comprehensive complete study, which provides information on both quantitative and qualitative aspects of children's and young people’s leisure time. Therefore, the study provides information on young people to administration, researchers and students as well as the general public for their use and to quench their thirst for knowledge.