Being Active Important for Teens!

active teens

Teenagers who are active and take part in arts and cultural activities, such as dance, drama, reading and going to concerts, are less likely to engage in antisocial and criminalized behavior up to two years later, according to a new study by UCL (University College London) and University of Florida researchers.

Researchers looked at data from more than 25,000 teenagers in the United States who had filled out questionnaires over several years. They measured the teenagers’ overall engagement with arts activities based on a wide range of factors, from involvement in school clubs, orchestras, choirs, and arts classes outside school, to whether they had visited museums or been to concerts, or read on their own.

They found that the more of these activities the teenagers were involved in, the less likely they were to report being engaged in antisocial behavior — ranging from misbehaving at school, to getting into fights, to criminalized behavior such as stealing and selling drugs — both at the time of the first survey and when they were asked again about antisocial behavior one and two years later. These teens also are often less stressed.

The team also found that active teenagers and young people who were more engaged in the arts were likely to have better self-control scores and view antisocial behavior negatively. These outcomes have previously been found to make young people less likely to engage in antisocial and criminalized behaviors.

Research has shown that getting involved in the arts can have a big impact on teenagers’ mental health and wellbeing.  This study adds to evidence about the wide-ranging benefits that active involvement in arts and culture can have for young people, demonstrating a positive link between the arts and a lower prevalence of antisocial behavior. Notably these findings remained, even when taking into account factors such as children’s age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, their parents’ educational background, where they lived, and their previous patterns of antisocial behaviors.

Finding ways to reduce antisocial behavior among teenagers is important because these behaviors may become established and continue into adulthood, affecting someone’s whole life. The findings demonstrate the importance of making arts and cultural activities available for all young people, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has limited access to and funding for these resources. In considering mechanisms through which the arts could reduce antisocial behavior, the researchers cited previous studies showing improvements from arts engagement including increased empathy, more prosocial behavior, reduced boredom and improved self-esteem, as well as better emotion regulation. The bottom line- keeping teens busy has positive lifelong benefits.

Source:  University College London

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