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Chapter 7

PSY310H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Internet Pornography, Routine Activity Theory, Dont

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Virginia K Walker

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Adolescents spend 4 times as many hours, on a weekly basis, working part-time jobs vs. doing homework
Adolescents’ Free Time in Contemporary Society
Two major influences:
1. Mandatory high school, beginning in the early 20th century, led to more free time. Before that, kids worked
just as much as adults did. But once they started going to school they couldn’t work full-time, and there
weren’t very many part-time or evenings-and-weekends jobs available. So groups like the Boy Scouts were
created by adults who worried about kids having too much free time.
2. Western nations (especially the USA) profited from World War 2. With most people having greater
affluence and a higher standard of living, their kids also had more money. Indeed, advertisers recognized
“teenagers” as a new market of people who had money to spend, enough autonomy to make decisions
about how to spend it, yet without as much responsibility as adults, so they could spend it on leisure.
One study found that suburban, middle-class, white teenagers and urban, poor, black teenagers spent their
time nearly the same way. About half of their time devoted to leisure activities, about a quarter on productive
activities and a quarter on personal and household maintenance activities. Keep in mind, though, that these
group averages may disguise differences within each group of youth, and those group profiles of time spent
on leisure / productive / maintenance activities may not actually apply to any real individuals within that
In fact, according to other research, it looks like you could break it down this way:
- Youth who are well-rounded and devote a lot of time to many different activities
- Youth who devote a lot of time to a narrow range of activities (e.g., only sports, or only music)
- Youth who are “non-participants” (whatever that means… I guess they are just idle?)
In general, busier adolescents seem to be better adjusted and more achievement oriented. But we don’t
know if there’s a causal relationship.
Comparing American teens to teens from “other countries”:
- American youth spend way more time on leisure and way less time on productive things than youth
in other countries
- In USA, the average high school student spends less than 5 hours per week on homework
oBut in India, Taiwan, and Japan, the average is 4-5 hours PER DAY
- European and Asian youth spend 3 times as many hours per week reading for pleasure (vs. USA)
- USA teens spend more time in sports, socializing, physical appearance, after-school jobs
Adolescents and Work
Before 1925 going to high school was the EXCEPTION, not the rule (only the wealthiest families did that).
Pretty much everyone else left school by age 12 or 15 and became full-time workers. Later on, compulsory
education laws came into effect; you had to stay in school until at least age 16. Also, child labour laws were
enacted, keeping adolescents out of the workforce, and there weren’t many part-time jobs available anyway.
Consider: in 1940, only 3% of high school students worked during the school year. But today, about 75% of
high school seniors and 40% of sophomores work during the school year, and between 80 and 90% of high
school students overall will have worked an after-school job before graduating from high school.
***How did this change come about?
- In the mid-20th century: growth of retail and service sectors of the economy
- Employers needed people who could work part-time for low wages
Just how much do students work nowadays? Well, in 2006:

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In all countries, household chores are more likely to be assigned to teenage girls vs. boys, but this is
especially true in developing countries.
Also in developing nations (even today), most adolescents start working full time by age 15 or 16. Only kids
from rich families go to school (similar to how it was in the USA 100 years ago).
But the USA is very compared to other DEVELOPED nations, too. For example:
- 2/3 American h.s. juniors have jobs during school year, but only ¼ Japanese & Taiwanese jr’s do.
- Working during school year is even rarer in Europe
oVirtually non-existent in France, Hungary, Russia, Switzerland…
oMore common to work very few works and have informal jobs like babysitting
Why is this??? There are a few reasons:
- Fast food restaurants are way more popular in USA. They’re everywhere.
- The school day lasts longer in other developed countries… not much time to work after school
- Other developed countries require way more homework…
The vast majority of USA teenagers work in retail and service industries, although girls are more likely to
work in service while boys are more likely to do manual labour. Most teens have jobs that are tedious,
intellectually UN-stimulating, and little opportunity to learn. Also, teens spend a lot of time with OTHER
teens at work (even their customers tend to be teens!), and don’t get much experience with adults.
However, if you ask them, teens themselves DON’T see their jobs this negatively. They say they:
- Learned things
- Like the people they work with
- Satisfied with their pay
Maybe it’s because, compared to high school, even not-so-great jobs are fulfilling and challenging.
Myth: jobs help teenagers build character, become more responsible, more prepared for future work.
Fact: it actually has a NEGATIVE effect on adolescent development.
Few teenagers exercise responsibility managing money / budgeting / saving / spending wisely.
Less than 10% save money for future education, but teens do spend lots of $$$ on alcohol and drugs.
“Premature Affluence” – teens get used to having an unrealistic high standard of living and spending money
on the things they want BEFORE they have responsibilities like paying rent. So then when they have those
responsibilities, they are unprepared and less satisfied with their financial situation.
Jobs in fast food and retail rank highest on measures of stress and interfering with other aspects of life.
If you interview adults, they will tell you that the jobs they had in adolescence helped them a lot.
But their perceptions don’t match up with objective assessments.
However, if the job gives teens genuine responsibility, independence, and decision-making opportunities, it
WILL help them. But most adolescent jobs don’t do this.
What about the impact on school performance?
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