Trends - Young People and Leisure 1983-2005


Attitudes to and experience of leisure activities 1983-2005

This report is to be updated and is currently not available for sale.

What the media said:

This report from the Schools Health Education Unit, is written using data from the Health Related Behaviour Questionnaire surveys. The report uses a sample of 448,124 young people between the ages of 10 and 15 from across the UK.

"Young people are telling us that computers and the Internet are more important than ever before. Several activities seem to have declined over the last decade or so like reading and doing homework. We have started collecting figures about young people acting as carers in the home, and as volunteers in their communities."

When looking over the figures since 1983 we find that, in recent years, young people are more likely to have.

  • Used a computer after school 'yesterday' with around 50% reporting this activity in recent years
  • Played computer games after school 'yesterday' with the greatest number responding to the playing for 'more than 1 hour' option.
  • Accessed the Internet at home and at school. Access at school appears to have grown at a slightly higher rate compared with access at home.
  • Browsed the Internet without adult supervision. The latest figures range from 60%-80%. More older (males in particular) than younger pupils have reported browsing without supervision.

We also find that young people in recent years are less likely to...
  • Be doing homework after school. Around 45% have regularly reported doing up to 1 hour of homework although just 38% of older pupils say so.

Did some homework after school yesterday:

Up to 2 hours of homework after school yesterday:

  • Read a book for enjoyment after school. From an initial response, of around 45% in the early 1990s, the proportion of 12-13 year old females has dropped to around 25%.
  • Watch TV after school. The general downward trend in TV watching after school is around 10% since 1991.
  • Care for pets after school. Clearly more popular with 12-13 year old females and less popular with 14-15 year old males. In the more recent past, around 40% have reported caring for pets.
  • Play sport after school. The older they get, young people report less often playing sport after school. Around 60% of 10-11 year old males, 35% of 10-11 year old females and around 25% of 12-15 year old females report carrying out this after-school activity.
  • Have a regular job during term time. There is an overall, slightly downward trend in those working part-time; however, since the late 1990s, there appears to be a slight upward trend for 12-13 year olds. In the early 1980s, more males than females had regular jobs and, although this continues across the years, the gap between the genders narrow from the early 1990s.

We also find little change in the numbers of young people who.
  • Play a musical instrument or meet friends after school
  • Report watching television for more than two hours after school. Older pupils have usually provided slightly higher percentages with around 35% compared with around 31% of younger pupils.