Those in youth ministry experience the busy schedules of young people, particularly high school students. Sports that used to become â€œrecreationâ€ are now club teams, honors classes have become high pressure AP classes, music now means private lessons, and dare I say youth group now means leadership team and peer ministry and band leader for many young people. Often youth ministers hear the busy schedules as an excuse for students not attending activities. Often I design youth programs as respite from their busy schedules, giving them a chance to rest and connect.
Time Magazine currently has an article that argues that these packed schedules are not the worst thing in the world.
The idea that kids should slow down and trade electronic pleasures for pastoral ones is a fine example of transference. (Arenâ€™t you really the one who wants to lose the BlackBerry and go fishing?) But thereâ€™s not much evidence that the ways childhood has changed in the past 25 yearsâ€“less unstructured play, more gadgets, rough college admissionsâ€“are actually hurting kids. Just the opposite.
Are we imposing our own wishes on the lives of our kids with wanting to slow down? I certainly would agree that those kids that are super scheduled seem to be very high functioning. In addition, I see over-scheduled kids do seem to have a lot of fun when they do get a chance to relax.
The one problem I would have with the article is that they cite psychosocial factors such as teen pregnancy and suicide rates. While itâ€™s certainly commendable that kids are doing better on psychosocial measures, I think that is a little bit like saying Iâ€™m smarter because I took a class that made my SAT score go up. Are these measures really the best way to analyze a teenâ€™s health?