Extracurricular Involvement Among Affluent Youth: A Scapegoat for “Ubiquitous Achievement Pressures”?

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It has been suggested that overscheduling of upper-class youth might underlie the high distress and substance use documented among them. This assumption was tested by considering suburban 8th graders' involvement in different activities along with their perceptions of parental attitudes toward achievement. Results indicated negligible evidence for deleterious effects of high extracurricular involvement per se. Far more strongly implicated was perceived parent criticism for both girls and boys as well as the absence of after-school supervision. Low parent expectations connoted significant vulnerability especially for boys. The findings indicate that at least among early adolescents, converging scientific and media reports may have scapegoated extracurricular involvements, to some degree, as an index of ubiquitous achievement pressures in affluent communities.

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