Leisure, recreation, and play from a developmental context.

Linda L. Caldwell, Peter A. Witt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Participation in activities and experiences defined as play, recreation,and leisure has important developmental implications for youth. Elements and characteristics of leisure experiences contribute directly to the development of identity, autonomy, competence,initiative, civic duty, and social connections. Whether in informal or formal, appropriately structured and organized programs,leisure experiences can help facilitate adolescent development in these areas. For example, one of the defining elements of leisure is that it is characterized by free choice and self-determination. Programs that promote leadership, choice, autonomy, and initiative can help adolescents deal with developmental challenges associated with this age group. Leisure experiences can also promote civic engagement and provide important peer-to-peer, peer to-adult, and peer-to-community connections. The social context of leisure is important to adolescent development in that it provides opportunities to learn empathy, loyalty, and intimacy in their group activities, as well as to negotiate with peers, resolve conflict,and work together for communal goals. In addition, adolescents often report positive emotional experiences in leisure, which can serve as a relief from the stress they feel in other areas of their lives and contribute to positive psychological adjustment and well-being. A case study is used to show how planned, purposive programs can be used as critical components of efforts to contribute to adolescent development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-27
Number of pages15
JournalNew directions for youth development
Issue number130
StatePublished - Jun 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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