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Some Time is Better Spent than Other Time: Chinese Adolescents’ Time Use and Developmental Outcomes

Shu Hu () and Zheng Mu ()
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Shu Hu: Singapore University of Social Sciences
Zheng Mu: National University of Singapore

Child Indicators Research, 2020, vol. 13, issue 5, No 13, 1739-1765

Abstract: Abstract Previous research has indicated that the time adolescents allocate to different activities may help to shape their educational, social, and psychological development. The “education fever” in East Asia raises concerns about the developmental implications of adolescents’ time use. China shares East Asian cultural preferences for academic excellence and has a competitive education system. Using an ecological and sociocultural perspective of human development, this study investigated the developmental implications of adolescent time use in China. We examined a wide range of time use and developmental outcomes employing a national sample of Chinese middle-school adolescents (n = 19,487). We found that time spent on homework assignments was associated with not only enhanced academic performance and educational aspiration but also increased depressive symptoms. Leisure reading was positively correlated with both educational outcomes and socio-psychological wellbeing, whereas private tutoring time and screen time were negatively associated with both. Sports and housework were correlated with higher socio-psychological wellbeing but not education-related outcomes. Girls spent more time studying, reading, and doing housework, and boys spent more time on sports and screens. Boys were more susceptible than girls to the effects of certain time use, such as screen time. These findings demonstrate the importance of examining child development comprehensively. More importantly, it shows that a balanced time allocation is crucial for the all-round development of children.

Keywords: Adolescent; Time use; Developmental outcomes; Gender; Ecological and sociocultural framework of human development; Education system (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s12187-020-09718-8

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