Our lab publishes research executive summaries on topics relevant to the field of youth development. Click the links to download the pdf.
Issues Impacting Youth
Issues of Body Image Affecting Female Adolescents: There are several factors that affect young women, their self-esteem, and their body image. Young women are impacted by their family, the media, and cultural and societal standards. Consequently, these standards can have negative impacts and lead to depression, unhealthy eating disorders, and low self-esteem amongst young girls. Parents, educators should educate and support young women when discussing a sensitive topic such as body image and encourage confidence and positive self-worth.
Cyberbullying and Youth: While technology has brought forth new and innovative ways for connecting with people, it has also paved the way for a new type of bullying to flourish – cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is different from traditional, face to face bullying, in that it takes place within the context of computer-mediated platforms. Nevertheless, the consequences of cyberbullying can negatively impact both boys and girls. Not only can cyberbullying lower a child’s self-esteem, but it can even lead to suicidal or life-threatening thoughts. To combat this type of bullying, school administrators, educators and parents should be educated and educate others on how cyberbullying impacts youth.
Nature and Youth Development: Advocacy and Implementation: The benefits of interacting with nature are numerous. Spending time in nature can help increase the concentration skills of children with ADD, reduce stress levels, and increase cognitive thinking, amongst other benefits. All of these are reasons to encourage youth to spend more time outdoors, but despite this, there are a variety of factors that can hinder their opportunity to do so. Some factors include youth simply not having access to outdoor space or youth becoming too invested in their technological devices. Therefore, parents and practitioners alike need to encourage children to spend more time interacting with nature as well as provide them with the opportunity and resources they need to effectively do so.
Social Media’s Influence on Youth: The power, appeal, and influence of social media is significant, especially amongst young adolescents. However despite all of its appeal, social media can have detrimental effects on teenage boys and girls. To ensure that their children are safe while on social media, parents should teach their children how to navigate the Internet and install privacy settings. Despite this, the measures in place are not enough to foster a safe social media environment.
Media Effects on Body Image Perceptions on Youth: The impact that the media has on adolescent boys and girls is significant. Television can negatively affect the self-esteem and confidence of young boys and girls. Constant comparison to television portrayals can significantly alter a young child’s perception of their physical appearance and lead to unhealthy habits. To prevent children from developing these negative perceptions, parents and other adults should support healthy lifestyles and encourage positive body images.
Leisure and Positive Youth Development
What is Youth Voice & The Benefits: Youth voice has become increasingly important in the positive development of adolescents. Various studies have founds that enabling youth to have a voice helps them to battle negative perceptions and illustrates their capability of being co-creators of action.
Fulfilling Leisure for Youth: There are two types of leisure that youth can take part in — casual or serious leisure. Casual leisure differs from serious leisure in that it is a fun activity that requires little to no effort or attention on the part of the youth participating in it. Serious leisure, however, engages youth through various activities and provides substantial opportunities for youth to gain knowledge and create memorable experiences. Thus, program leaders and parents should educate young people about the advantages of participating in serious leisure activities.
Does Family Leisure Exist?: Family leisure activities are very important in sustaining healthy relationships between family members. However, there are a number of factors that can prevent or change how families spend time together. Work, time constraints, technology, etc. all play a role in potentially ceasing family time. Families must be aware of these various constraints, so that they may plan accordingly and ensure they maximize their family time.
Youth Participation, Retention, and Recruitment
Factors that Affect Older Adolescent Involvement in Out-of-school Time Programming: There are several factors that impact the retention levels of youth in extracurricular activities such as low quality activities. Therefore, to avoid the deficit of youth involved in these programs, program leaders should create guides/programs that will educate and assist fellow program leaders with implementing retention and recruitment techniques in their programs as well as
include youth when developing or assessing current program activities. In doing so, these members will provide first-hand experience and insight on how to best redesign and structure program activities, so that they continue to retain and appeal to current members and potentially attract new ones.
Healthy Youth Development
Implementing Sports-based Positive Youth Development: Out of school time programs incorporating sports activities are beneficial to creating and maintaining positive youth development. However, to maximize the full potential of these types of programs, they must be implemented correctly. Effective implementation can reap positive results including youth attaining positive and beneficial life skills that will help them in the future.
Strike the Balance: Sports and Other Out-of-School Activities: Extracurricular activities, including sports and the arts, have been proven to have positive effects on those who participate in them. Sports are favored amongst a majority of youth today, however, participation in any out-of-school activities including the arts can reap positive benefits for youth. By participating in these types of activities, youth participants are able to gain instrumental life and developmental skills that will help them in every facet of their life.