The right to move. A study of children's and young people's leisure activities in 2018

Tiina Hakanen, Sami Myllyniemi & Mikko Salasuo (eds.)

In Finnish: Oikeus liikkua. Lasten ja nuorten vapaa-aikatutkimus 2018


The study of children’s and young people’s leisure activities is a biennial interview study, which is carried out in cooperation by the State Youth Council, the National Sports Council, the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Youth Research Network. The study is a continuation of the surveys of young people’s organisational commitment carried out in the 1990s. The theme centred around organisations has subsequently been broadened to include young people’s leisure time more generally. The theme was broadened due to increased understanding of the importance of leisure time and time spent in a self-motivated way in children’s and young people’s lives.

As the name suggests, the target of the study of children’s and young people’s leisure activities is to study leisure time and the related trends. As leisure time is the subject of research, the study focuses above all on the life that takes place outside of school, work and other institutions. The main theme of this 2018 study is physical activity and physical exercise. The focus is on children’s and young people’s own views, experiences and interpretations of their own physical activity and physical exercise. This is possible as interviews and questions were the methods used to collect data.

The study population comprises children and young people aged 6 to 29 years who live in Mainland Finland. The sampling was carried out as random sampling on the data available at the Population Register Centre. Telephone numbers were then obtained. The data collection for those under the age of 15 was initiated by contacting the guardians to request permission to interview the children.

An important prism into the world of the children and young people in the study is the Act on the promotion of sports and physical activity and the principles for achieving its objectives. The main purpose of the study on leisure activities is to find out whether the Act’s value base and principles are fulfilled in children’s and young people’s physical exercise. In the section on physical exercise we also discuss results that are of key importance and topical from the perspective of the Act. 

We also asked the children’s parents for their views on children’s physical exercise. We used generational comparison as a new way of tapping into the meanings physical exercise and activity has within families. Above all we used it to discover the parents’ upbringing aspirations and goals and their experiences and views of the current state of physical exercise carried out by children and young people. Parents’ upbringing aspirations and goals provide an important frame of reference for the parties that arrange physical activities for children and young people and for the policy on physical activity.

An important characteristic of the study of leisure activities is the opportunity it offers to study the way each theme is linked with other leisure time activities. Also on this occasion, the study investigated the children’s and young people’s opinions regarding whether they have enough leisure time, their screen time, hobbies and participation in organisations. A particular point of interest in the study is the link between children’s and young people’s physical activity and the rest of their leisure time. The key observation is the link between physical activity and an otherwise active leisure time. Regular physical exercise is associated with a higher than average feeling of satisfaction in relation to state of health, physical condition and appearance and to life overall.

Keywords: children, young people, leisure time, physical exercise, hobbies, bullying, physical exercise habits, organisational activity, physical activity, physical exercise behaviour