What Challenges Are Boys Facing, and What Opportunities Exist To Address Those Challenges? Fact Sheet: Constructive Use of Time*. Some Facts about Boys and Constructive Use of Time


For the millions of children and adolescents who regularly spend afterschool time without adult supervision, being able to work, volunteer, or participate in some form of physical, social, or religious activities is crucial. It’s during those hours that youth are more likely to experiment with alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.(1)

Participation in Afterschool Activities

  • The percentage of kindergarten through eighth grade boys who participated in afterschool activities at least once per week increased from 2001 to 2005.(2)
  • In 2005, the afterschool activities in which boys most frequently participated were sports (34%), religious activities (18%), arts (12%), scouts (9%), community service (7%), academic activities (7%), and clubs (5%).(3)
  • About one-quarter (26%) of high school boys participate in a school club or activity.(4)
  • A 2007 study found that boys and girls who spent time relating with caring adults — whether a parent, coach, tutor, or employer — were more likely to have healthy development.(5)

Physical Activities

  • In a 2002 study, researchers reported that boys who did physical activities of any kind on a daily basis were less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.(6)
  • The same study also suggested that 10-, 12-, and 14-year-old boys who play organized sports were more likely to be involved in other activities, such as school clubs, music, arts, and volunteering.(7)

Religious Activities

  • In 2005, boys and girls who regularly attended religious services were less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, commit or be exposed to violence, or get into trouble.(8)

Volunteering and Service Learning

  • Between September 2006 and September 2007, 23% of boys, ages 16 to 19, volunteered an average of 39 hours of their time. This shows a downward trend: the previous year, 24% of boys of the same age volunteered.(9)
  • A 2008 study found that providing boys and girls with service learning opportunities increased helping behavior and perceptions of social responsibility.(10)
  • Boys’ rate of involvement in service learning has remained stable at around 46% since 1996.(11)


  • During the 2003-2004 academic school year, 25% of high school boys ages 16 to 18 were employed.(12)
  • Employed high school students spend more time in religious, spiritual, and volunteer activities than students who are not employed.(13) However, youth who work more than 20 hours a week may be at risk for negative outcomes including failure to complete high school, delinquent behavior, and substance abuse.(14),(15)

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