Children who have hobbies 'do better'

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The Independent Online

Children who spend their spare time on hobbies and sports do better at school than youngsters who play outdoors or just "hang out", a study reveals today.

Children who spend their spare time on hobbies and sports do better at school than youngsters who play outdoors or just "hang out", a study reveals today.

Ten-year-olds who go to clubs, attend dance or music lessons, have a stamp or card collection, engage in sports, handicrafts, or artistic activities are better behaved, achieve better grades at school and are less likely to have adjustment problems.

But children who spend their time "hanging out" or playing outside are more likely to display bad conduct or symptoms of depression, according to the research by psychologists from Penn State University in the United States.

Reading, however, appears to be a "double-edged sword". Ten-year-olds who read more tend to perform better in school tests but they are also more likely to display loneliness, introspection and other signs of depression.

Dr Susan McHale, who led the research, which is reported in the latest edition of the journal Child Development, said: "Now that there are so many opportunities for children and extra-curricular activities you could ask why aren't more parents helping them to get involved."

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