Last issue’s Kaleidoscope explored how kids and teens spend their summers. We uncovered their thoughts – the good and bad – about summertime and took a peek into their daily routines. For part two, we’re diving deeper into how busy kids are feeling during the summer months and what activities shape those feelings. Finally, we’ll explore summer boredom and how it differs by age and gender.
We reported that kids and teens feel they have more free time in the summer compared to other parts of the year. While true, kids still feel they’re busy. On a scale of one to five, where one is ‘not busy at all’ and five is ‘very busy,’ respondents on average rated themselves about a three. This number often reached a four or five respondents approached their teen years. (Interestingly, not one kid we spoke with rated themselves below a two on the scale.)
For kids, participating in camps, playing outside, bike riding and playing with friends in the neighborhood contributed to their busyness. Teens, meanwhile, classify organized sports, sports camps, jobs and chores as activities that fill their summer days. As such, ‘busy’ is interpreted differently among kids and teens. And though it could be argued certain activities such as playing don’t constitute busy work, the fact remains that our respondents are feeling busy. It’s possible this is a product of living full or scheduled lifestyles all year long, therefore maintaining this sense of busyness throughout the summer months.
On the flipside, we asked kids and teens about boredom and if and when it occurs. Younger kids don’t necessarily feel bored often, but when they do, they turn to indoor activities such as watching TV or playing video games to pass the time. Just as the kids, teens don’t feel bored often either. The teen boys we spoke with seldom experience boredom – rather they defined it as ‘downtime’ and ‘relaxation.’ Given their scheduled summer days, it’s no wonder teen boys welcome ‘downtime.’
The clear outliers are tweens and younger teen girls. These groups find themselves living in some very boring times during the summer. Tweens have entered into the onset of adolescence, often leading them to feel ‘sleepy’ and ‘lazy.’ These in-between years are also tricky because these groups feel they’re sometimes too old to play outside and too young to go off on their own and they often rely on a parent to help them get from place to place. Girls also struggle to maintain their social connections during the summer. (Knowing how important being social is to girls at this age, it’s no surprise they’re feeling lonely without constant daily contact from their friends.)
So how do kids feel as the summer comes to an end? Younger kids don’t look forward to the close of summer as they truly enjoy all that the season has to offer. Teens tend to get somewhat anxious at the idea of summer coming to an end. They’re aware of the increase in school work, keeping up with sports or after-school activity schedules, and preparation for college that awaits them. It also should come as no surprise that tweens, especially girls, are ready for the summer to be over – they can’t wait to resume socializing at school.
In the next Kaleidoscope, we’ll explore video gaming among kids, teens and parents. For more information, contact Kaleidoscope@nick.com
(Source: Nickelodeon Kids and Family Research, June, 2010; Touchstone Research. Quantitative Sample Size: N = 500 kids and teens ages eight to17 years old.)